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ALERT – Jan. 21: All Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela and other Latin American-Caribbean topics are now featured on my other blog: HAITI-CUBA-VENEZUELA ANALYSIS –

Honduras and related issues will continue to be covered on this blog, HONDURAS OYE! -

Dr. Juan Almendares – January 28, 2010 Meeting

February 10, 2010

Picture and Story from Honduras Resists:

Monday, February 8, 2010

January 28, 2010 Meeting with Dr. Juan Almendares

Dr. Almendares has been a figure in the Honduran social movements since the 1970’s. He told us that he currently has three projects: One is the resistance; second, the environmental struggle against mining companies and multinationals; and the third is the CPTRT, a center for prevention of torture, and denouncing military and police brutality. He also continues to run a medical clinic for the poor. Below are excerpts from the delegation’s meeting with the Doctor in Tegucigalpa on January 28, 2010.

“I am part of the resistance. I trained as medical doctor in Honduras, then went to California in the 1960’s and was inspired by the political thinking that was growing there, including the movement against the war in Viet Nam, Angela Davis, Mario Savio. I then was at the University of Pennsylvania. I returned to Honduras and eventually became the Dean of the Medical School and then Rector of the National University. In the 1980s, many friends and students were killed in repression. While I was at the University, John Negroponte was the U.S ambassador. He decided that I needed to be discharged from the university and I decided to join popular movement. I was condemned to death by the death squads in the 1980’s and I was captured, interrogated and subjected to psychological torture. For four years, I couldn’t practice medicine because I was prohibited by military. So I began to link with communities.”

Dr. Almendares continued working on health issues, the environment and for social justice in the poor communities of Honduras. He has been very active with communities opposed to the mining concessions near Lake YoYoa. The communities there came to him and wanted him to so a medical brigade visit, “The first thing I saw is at the entrance to the mine was a military battalion, I was not allowed to visit homes of any workers, so I did brigade in the primary school. This kind of mining is most highly contaminating and the main companies are from the U.S. and Canada. We organized a strong movement on the mining issue and it continues”

“I have low profile in resistance, don’t want to have high profile. I have idea that there should be no leaders in resistance, or at least, they should change frequently. Trying to work for unity is challenging, especially for elections. We have seen how our resistance movement surprised everybody here and in the world. Why? —–Because Honduras has been a neglected country in the backyard of the United States.”

“I have never seen the courage of my people like this, and the creativity. Women have become very active. In 1980 we were trying to unite artists and intellectuals, it was impossible. Now we have a different consciousness, now they have to recognize strength of struggle is in poor barrios, and with the campesinos. We have to develop consciousness of people and leadership. Society is macho but now we have a gay, lesbian movement; they are being killed because they are very powerful (in the movement).”

“If we analyze the question of why did they have coup in Honduras. Zelaya did not have support of Liberal party, not from Supreme Court or from Congress, or Supreme Tribunal, army, or ruling class. Why did they have to do coup? I believe it is because of the international situation and because of the people. The strategy of right wing is to personify the fourth urn (constitutional consultation) with Zelaya. That was good strategy because there is not enough political consciousness. But our people are good analysts. Zelaya came from the oligarchy, as did Micheletti. I see a difference between the neoliberal rulers and parasitic bourgeoisie. The parasitic ones have big business with the state and media. The Liberal Party has two currents; Mel Zelaya is from the more nationalistic bourgeois current. But Zelaya became more sensitive to needs of the people and came into contradiction with the oligarchy and bourgeoisie. Zelaya did some very important things like minimum wage. He was also very brave and clear about Chavez and Cuba. Zelaya was consistent, gained credibility with people. I was surprised.”

“What is the future of this country? I believe that the strong force in this country is the resistance.”

“More Terror” in Honduras, as Another Unionist Murdered

February 10, 2010

‘More Terror’ in Honduras, as Another Unionist Murdered

February 8
8:31 am
By Kari Lydersen
The body of 29-year-old Vanessa Yamileth Zepeda, still dressed in her nurse’s scrubs and killed by a bullet, turned up in the Loarque neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on February 4. Zepeda had young children and was a leader of the SITRAIHSS labor union (Workers Union for the Honduran Social Security Institute). She had been abducted that afternoon while leaving a union meeting.
The administration of the newly inaugurated President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo has called Zepeda’s murder and other recent attacks common crime. But the Honduran resistance movement – mobilized since the June 2009 coup against then-president Manuel Zelaya – see it as a clear message.
Trade unionists, especially public sector workers like Zepeda, are among the strongest and largest factions making up the resistance coalition. Opposition to powerful unions was apparently among the motivations for the coup in the first place, and all the country’s major union federations are part of the resistance front.
Unions are an impediment to neoliberal pushes to increase privatization, and foreign companies fear clashes with unions or unionizing efforts in Honduras’ maquila (factory) sector.
Since Lobo’s inauguration on January 27, there have been 10 to 15 assassinations of resistance members and leaders, according to Victoria Cervantes, a Chicago activist who recently returned from meeting with unionists and other groups in Honduras with the group La Voz de los de Abajo.
Since the coup, a number of people have been killed and thousands arrested and detained. Most of the previous deaths involved police and soldiers opening fire on crowds or attacking people in the midst of protests. Such open state violence has ebbed in recent weeks.
But the targeted kidnapping, torture and assassination of a handful of activists like Zepeda is more chilling and evokes hallmarks of the ruthless right-wing death squads of the 1980s in Central America and more recently in Colombia, according to human rights groups.
(Jeremy Kryt has been reporting from Honduras on such human rights abuses for In These Times.)
“Before you might have had 300 army trucks storming through Tegucigalpa,” said Cervantes. “That could be terrifying, but what’s probably more terrifying is the idea that if you are identified as part of the resistance movement, you or your daughter could be snatched up and tortured. This is more terror at a lower political cost.”
Trade unionists and gay and lesbian groups, who have become increasingly visible and organized as part of the resistance, have been the main focus of recent attacks and intimidation. Campesino communities, especially those involved in contested land takeovers, have also suffered recent increases in violence and repression from police and landowners.
“Campesinos have always suffered some level of violence, but this is different,” said Cervantes.
There have reportedly been beheadings and a man’s tongue was cut out. Cervantes said Honduran officials known for paramilitary activity in the 1980s have also resurfaced as part of the coup and/or in Lobo’s conservative party.
“It’s the same actors as the ‘80s, and they’re desperate to terrify the resistance out of existence,” said Cervantes. “Again, it’s multinational companies tied in with the oligarchy. History keeps repeating itself.”

VIDEOS: As President Zelaya Leaves, the Resistance Will Be There to Salute Him

January 27, 2010

It seems like a good time to look back at the last seven months  and honor the Honduran Resistance which hit the streets June 28, on the day of coup, and has not stopped.

The Resistance is Not Afraid:

The anthem of the Honduran Resistance is a beautiful and compelling song:  “Nos tienen miedo porque no tenemos miedo” or in English, “They are afraid of us because we are not afraid.”  Two versions.



Illegal Detentions, Arrests, Beatings and Death Squad Democracy:

At the end of a peaceful march, the golpistas’ police and military detained more than 25 people, some of whom were seriously hurt and maltreated.  The detainees were transferred to different police posts by various “special” police forces.  The detainees did not commit any crimes and the authorities have no proof of their culpability.  Of course state-sponsored repression continues today:  Death Squad Democracy.


The Valiant and Brave People of the Resistance Drive On:


HONDURAS: One Day Before the “Inauguration of the New Puppets”

January 26, 2010
From Felipe C. Stuart in Managua – General background info on Honduras, plus:
  • Rights Action commentary: “From Haiti to Honduras – what the future holds for the Honduran people”
  • Article: “Starvation predicted in Honduras”
  • Article: “Proposed amnesty law serves to whitewash Honduran coup”
  • Short documentary film: “Shot in the back”
  • Support needed: “Work brigade to rebuild & relaunch radio “faluma bimetu”, the first Garífuna voice”
  • What to do, how to donate?


On January 27 new puppets will take center stage in the puppetry act Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Elected “President” Pepe Lobo [ no doubt called “little wolf” by his gringo puppeteers at the Embassy ] will accept the strings of of attachment to the invisible government and state power that continues to rule in Honduras — a committee of representatives of the army high command and of the ten ruling oligarchic families, who meet under the chairmanship of the US ambassador of the day, and with the blessing of the ranking cleric of the Roman Catholic Church.
Lobo has agreed to offer a “safe conduct” visa to ousted President Mel Zelaya who is still exiled in the Brazilian embassy along with supporters. The Dominican Republic has offered to receive Zelaya and give him refuge, but it has been reported that Zelaya hopes to reside in Mexico in order to be closer to Honduran and Central American political life.
Some sectors on the international and Latin American left have expressed a sense of despair or fatalism with respect to what has been, in many circles, been interpreted as a defeat for Latin American independence from the overwhelming power of Washington and the weighty U.S. military-industrial-communications complex. Obama, after all, it seems, pulled one over on the OAS majority that had vowed never to accept the coup. He managed to entice the servile and discredited Oscar Arias to broker a negotiations process whose only purpose was to confuse and disorient the resistance forces in Honduras, the international solidarity movement, and to buy urgently needed time to bring the coup regime into a smooth, uneventful landing, safe and out of harms way. This maneuver succeeded, despite warnings from grassroots leaders in Honduras and wise counsel from international revolutionary leaders including Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez.
But, did the San José maneuver and the survival of the Micheletti coup regime until the end of the constitutional period of the deposed president bring about a clear, certain, and stable victory for the Honduran ruling class and its imperial backers in Washington?
That question has already been answered on the streets and university grounds of the country, in the factories and work centers, in the public employees sector, in the rural fields and agricultural work centers, and in the ports and transport industries. The mass national resistance movement against the June 28 coup remains a viable and significant political force. It was not disoriented either by Oscar Arias or by the electoral sham on November 27. Despite disagreements over how to respond to both challenges and obstacles, the movement remains strong and united. This resistance is without precedent in Indo-Latin America and the Caribbean. Never has such a prolonged resistance to a military coup held its ground and outlasted formal political stalemate. This movement has united and educated forces across the traditional barriers of class, race, ethnicity, language, gender, age, rural-urban differences, culture, regionalisms, and educational background. It has demonstrated political sophistication not just here and there, or at the most critical moments, but consistently. It has, and continues to resist provocative efforts of secret police and CIA agents to entice its younger elements into violent and criminal acts in order to create public support for even harsher repressive measures. It has evaded efforts to promote provocations against the police and rank-and-f’ile soldiers in order to keep the largely poor and rural soldier ranks isolated from the mass protests and propaganda in favor of democratic rights and the Constitution of the Republic. It has risen over and over again to the challenge of uniting very diverse class and political tendencies and forces into a fist of defiance, without falling into the temptation of silencing the ranks in order to lend an appearance of more solid support for leadership decisions. By maintaining openness and ample space for the voices of the grassroots the resistance demonstrated over and over again that an essentially harmonious relationship prevailed between different levels and sectors of the movement. Differences were and are treated as a normal eventuality in any genuine mass upsurge involving forces barely acquainted with working together, especially under conditions of fierce, violent repression and the silencing of opposition media.
Part of the “miracle” of the movements unity, in my view, stemmed from the fact that the entire movement held firm and intransigent around the key demands of the resistance — rejection of the unconstitutional de facto regime and the restoration of the constitutional presidency; an end to all repression and ordering the army back into its barracks; restoration of press freedom and re-opening of banned TV and Radio stations; release of all political prisoners; no impunity for those who carried out the coup, nor for military and police personnel involved in crimes against the population, including assassinations, torture, disappearances, beatings, and rape.
Finally, the key demand that ties all this together into a perspective for democratizing the Honduran state is the call for a Constituent Assembly — a political process leading up to an Assembly empowered to change the country´s Magna Carta, and to set in motion democratic and fair political processes that must form the basis of a responsible and credible electoral and political exercise for deciding which political forces will form the national government, etc.
This is an ongoing struggle. It “ain´t over til its over” as the US baseball saying has it. The final innings in this fight lay ahead, not behind the Honduran and Central American people.
Much is at stake, not just in Honduras, but across the Region. One immediate impact of the coup was to give courage and sustenance to reactionary forces in Panama and Costa Rica to finally come out into the open in their opposition to the process of Central American unity. Its most advanced recent expression was the SICA (Central American Integration System) and the C-4 Accord (through which citizens of Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala can travel between the four countries without a passport or visa — an important step towards establishing a common labor market, something prized by local capitalists). Costa Rican president Oscar Arias has made it clear that his country, if he has his way, will turn away from the SICA and join Panama and Colombia in a different sort of alliance, whether formal or informal. That tripartite arrangement is a direct threat not only to Venezuela and Ecuador, which border on the Colombian narcostate (Washington´s South American “Israel”) but also against Nicaragua which has significant border disputes with both Colombia (maritime) and with Costa Rica (territorial disputes over the Rio San Juan and environmental issues stemming from the contamination of Costa Rican feeder rivers with heavy metals and other poisons).
Looking at the geopolitics of the Honduran coup from an even higher vantage point, it is clear that the coup was part of a Washington strategy to re- militarize its relations with South and Central America, and with the Caribbean countries. The coup was followed by the agreement to install military bases in Colombia, and later in Panama; and by the decision to take the Fourth Fleet out of mothballs and redeploy it to the southwest Caribbean theatre — offshore from Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras.
Hence, Obama has demonstrated not only his skills at what Eva Gollinger described as ¨smart diplomacy,” but also his readiness to use the Big Stick, even if he has to go through denial acts and blame Hillary Clinton, his Secretary of State, for the more crude moves in this warfare.
We like to remind ourselves in Nicaragua that “Sandino vive, la lucha sigue” (Sandino lives on, the struggle goes on). It does. Fransisco Morazán lives on in the mass resistance movement that has changed politics and governing in Honduras for ever.
I hope you will turn now to the material from RIGHTS ACTION´s latest Update from Honduras, and the analyses offered by this irreplaceable team of human rights defenders in and on behalf of Central America.
Felipe Stuart C.
HONDURAS, January 25, 2010
2 days until the “transfer of power”


  • Rights Action commentary: “From Haiti to Honduras – what the future holds for the Honduran people”
  • Article: “Starvation predicted in Honduras”
  • Article: “Proposed amnesty law serves to whitewash Honduran coup”
  • Short documentary film: “Shot in the back”
  • Support needed: “Work brigade to rebuild & relaunch radio “faluma bimetu”, the first Garífuna voice”
  • What to do, how to donate?


By Grahame Russell, Rights Action commentary,

As international attention remains on Haiti, in the aftermath of the earthquake, January 27th is the day of the so-called transfer of power and authority to the incoming government of President Pepe Lobo.

This “transfer of power” completes the “legalization” and “legitimization” of the military coup in Honduras that ousted the government of Mel Zelaya in June 2009.

Even as a few governments in the Americas are fully recognizing the incoming government of Honduras (product of the coup and illegitimate November 2009 elections), there are distressing points of comparison with the devastating situation in Haiti (as well as significant differences).

While the earthquake is the immediate cause of the widespread death and destruction, it is widely accepted that the real killer in Haiti were and remain the underlying conditions of exploitation and poverty and the resultant vulnerability.  The military coups of 1990 and 2004 put in place illegitimate, undemocratic and dysfunctional and/or corrupt regimes, backed by the “international community”.

These post-coup regimes did nothing to initiate or bring about the political and economic reforms that Haiti desperately needs to begin to address its historic exploitation and poverty; rather, they mostly implemented “free trade” economic and development policies imposed by the “international community.”  By now, everyone knows the conditions of poverty, exploitation and vulnerability a majority of Haitians were living in before the earthquake!

What will happen now in Honduras, with an illegitimate government that ousted a democratically elected government that was starting to bring about some of the political and economic changes Honduras sorely needs, an illegitimate government that has the backing of and responds to the narrow, self-serving economic interest of the economic elites and the “international community” … as in Haiti?

The struggle for real democracy and fundamental changes to the development economic model continue in Honduras.  The popular, pro-democracy sectors need substantial support if we hope to diminish the conditions of exploitation, poverty and vulnerability in Honduras.

* * *


(At least 100,000 Hondurans will suffer from starvation in the coming year due to drought and the food crisis, which has worsened due to the political instability resulting from the coup d’état six months ago)
By: Juventud Rebelde, Email:, 2009-12-29

TEGUCIGALPA, December 28.— At least 100,000 Hondurans will suffer from starvation in the coming year due to drought and the food crisis, which has worsened due to the political instability resulting from the coup d’état six months ago, reported Prensa Latina.

A delegation from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) will arrive in the country in a few days to carry out a comprehensive study of the consequences of the El Niño climatic phenomenon.

The study will determine how many quintals of basic grain will not be produced due to the absence of rain, what zones will be the most affected and the measures to be taken. OCHA’s Emergency Response Adviser Douglas Reiner warned on the risks of humanitarian crises in Central America due to drought and said that Honduras is one of the most affected with 100,000 people at risk.

Honduras’ situation worsened after the coup d’état against President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, especially due to the partial closure of hospitals and schools. “Some patients have not received the appropriate medical care and some children have stopped consuming the food they would normally receive at schools,” said Reiner.

Some programs initiated by the Zelaya administration to support small and medium producers were cancelled after the coup d’état along with several projects supported by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas (ALBA) in sectors such as healthcare, education, energy and agriculture that have been cancelled or severely affected.

ALBA donated a hundred modern trucks, plows, seeders and other implements to improve agriculture production in Honduras. In the energy sector, the country’s incorporation to PETROCARIBE assured a stable supply of 20,000 barrels of oil a day at preferential prices and low interest rates. After the coup, the head of the de facto regime, Roberto Micheletti, asked the National Council to put to vote the virtual removal of this mechanism, which was supported by Porfirio Lobo, the Honduran president-elect during the recently held illegal elections on November 29.

* * *

PROPOSED AMNESTY SERVES TO WHITEWASH HONDURAN COUP – Vote expected next week to absolve Honduran military of crimes, even as murders continue

January 8, 2010, by Mark Weisbrot (Center for Economic and Policy Research)

Washington, D.C. – The international community should offer no support for planned amnesty for the perpetrators of the Honduran coup, Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said today. Noting that both ousted President Manuel Zelaya and coup leaders previously agreed on a deal to resolve the crisis that did not include amnesty for crimes, Weisbrot cautioned that current efforts to grant amnesty to the coup leaders would be merely an attempt to “whitewash the coup.”

“The international community should remember that this is a regime that not only dealt a deadly blow to Honduran democracy through a military coup, it has also attempted to turn back time to a dark period of bloody dictatorships, death squads, disappearances, tortures, and murders,” Weisbrot said. “Only international pressure will stop these abuses.”

The Honduran congress is expected to vote early next week to approve amnesty for the perpetrators of the June 28 coup d’etat that ousted President Manuel Zelaya – who is still recognized as the legitimate president by the international community – and then imposed a dictatorship. This week the Attorney General, Luis Rubi, stated that armed forces head General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez and other military chiefs had violated Honduras’ constitution by forcibly deporting Zelaya, but stopped short of charging them for removing Zelaya from power or for other crimes including the killing of unarmed demonstrators and other serious human rights violations.

In reaction to the Attorney General’s charges against the military leaders, President Zelaya issued a statement Wednesday saying that Rubi is supporting the “impunity of the military by accusing them of lesser crimes and abuse of authority, and not for serious crimes they have committed: treason, murder, human rights violations, torture,” and that “it is clear what is being done are preparatory acts for the impunity of the military and to avoid punishment for the material and intellectual authors of the military coup.”

Since seizing power, the dictatorship has committed an array of human rights abuses including killings, beatings of demonstrators, detentions of hundreds of people, and attacks on media outlets. International human rights groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and press freedom groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders have documented and condemned these human rights crimes since the dictatorship seized power.

This violence continues to the present:

As recently as January 6, the Garifuna radio station Faluma Bimetu was burned down in an arson attack. Reporters Without Borders stated that the station “has often been threatened because of its opposition to last June’s coup d’état and to real estate projects in the region.”
On December 28, independent journalist César Silva was kidnapped, interrogated, beaten, and threatened with death before being dumped in a deserted lot the next day; he has since left Honduras.
The week before, Edwin Renán Fajardo Argueta, a member of Artists in Resistance was found strangled to death in his apartment; Fajardo had reported receiving death threats just days before. The attackers removed computers in both the Fajardo murder and the Faluma Bimetu arson.

The October 30 accord agreed to by Zelaya and Micheletti, which was intended to lead to the creation of a unity government and resolution to the crisis, notably did not include an amnesty deal. “The Honduran regime is hoping to receive amnesty for its crimes, even as it continues to murder resistance activists,” Weisbrot said. “To allow this would be a green light for more killings.”

* * *

Watch “Shot in the Back” at:

This newest Witness for Peace Productions video chronicles the ongoing violence facing Hondurans. Over a month after national elections that the U.S. administration claimed would restore democracy, community activists and local leaders continue to receive death threats and intimidation.

* * *


WHERE:  Triunfo de la Cruz, near La Ceiba, on the north coast of Honduras
WHEN:  February 1-7, 2010

The “Faluma Bimetu” radio station, OFRANEH (Fraternal Organization of Black and Garifuna people of Honduras), and COMPPA (Popular Communicators for Autonomy) call for funding and participation in the reconstruction of the “Faluma Bimetu” radio station in the Garífuna community Triunfo de la Cruz, in the Tela Bay.

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 6th, the Garífuna community radio Faluma Bimetu (Sweet Coconut) – based in Triunfo de la Cruz – was burnt down by unknown armed individuals who proceeded to loot the station’s radio equipment.  This is not the first time the radio has been attacked and its equipment stolen. In 2002, unknown persons stole the Faluma Bimetu transmitter and other key radio equipment.

The Garífuna people are in resistance to a slow process of forced (and often times violent) assimilation into the dominant culture by proponents of the tourist industry and mass media; and subject to evictions by corrupt corporate monopolies.

Triunfo de la Cruz, like other Garífuna communities in the Tela Bay area, has become a conflict zone since the invasion of venture capitalists, politicians, and foreign investors attempting to seize community land for the construction of mega–tourism projects.

Transmission of Radio “Faluma Bimetu” began in 1997, promoted by the Land Defense Committee of Triunfo de la Cruz (CODETT) in order to strengthen Garífuna culture and defend ancestral lands.

Garífuna community radios provide a social service to the community and do not generate private profit. Transmitting from Triunfo de la Cruz, Faluma Bimetu is necessary in the fight against Honduran elite, and its attempts to displace Garífuna communities for more corporate development and tourism.

From February 1-7, 2010, there will be a national and international brigade for the reconstruction and re-launching of Radio Faluma Bimetu. During the week, the community, the organizations, the Network of Indigenous and Garífuna radios in Honduras and Central America and citizens of the world will gather to collectively reconstruct and reinstall the house, production and transmission cabins.

1 500-watt transmitter; 1 10-channel mixer; 2 desktop computers; 1 cellphone; 1 air conditioner; 1 dvd and cd player; 4 microphones  (2 condensed mics and y 2 handheld mics); 2 digital voice recorders; 2 headphones; 2 speakers; 2 portable microphones; 1 building material ($500.00 corrugated metal roofing, paint, and lumber); 1 electrical wiring.

We will reinstall electricity, paint the walls, remove and replace the roof, rebuild the tables, put a fence around the radio, and reinstall radio equipment (including mixers microphones, headphones, transmitters, computers, CD players, and internet, etc.)

During the same week, OFRANEH (the leading Garifuna organization in Honduras) will organize accompaniment (day visits and overnight trips) with other radios of the Network of Garífuna Community Radios: Radio Durugubuti Beibei in San Juan Tela and Radio Sugua in Sambo Creek.

Come with us and meet the people of OFRANEH, who use community radios and popular communications to fight against the censorship of Garífuna voices and culture.

Saturday, February 6th, Faluma Bimetu will be re–inaugurated. The inauguration will include cultural ceremonies, music, art, and declarations against the politics of marginalization and erasure.

We need $7,500 dollars to rebuild Faluma Bimetu and get it back on the air. Join our work party or support us with what you are able ($5 and up). Raise your voice and help defend the communication rights in this effort to rebuild Radio Faluma Bimetu.

1- Send donations with PAYPAL or a CREDIT CARD.  Send your paypal donation to or make a donation via
2- Send donations to OFRANEH´s account in Honduras: Account No. 310-002-3062, Banco Atlántida, SWIFT: ATTDHNTE, La Ceiba, Atlántida, Honduras C.A.
3- Make a tax deductible donation in the USA or Canada by sending a check made out to “Rights Action”:
UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
CANADA:  552 – 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
Please write “Ofraneh-Radio” in the memo line.
Credit card donations (tax deductible):

on how to participate and support Faluma Bimetu, contact us:,,

OFRANEH: Honduran Black Fraternal Organization, T: (504) 4420618, (504) 4500058,,
COMPPA: Popular Communicators for Autonomy,,

* * *


Since the June 28th military coup, Rights Action has channeled over $75,000 of your donations and grants to Honduran civil society organizations doing pro-democracy, pro-rule of law, and human rights defense work.  Make check payable to “Rights Action” and mail to:

UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
CANADA:  552 – 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
Complete proposal-report available on request.


There is no reason for North Americans to write the “government” of Honduras to demand they respect human rights and properly investigate these political crimes.  They won’t.  The military coup regime in Honduras is carrying out State repression on purpose; repression will absolutely continue in Honduras.

North Americans must send these informations to our politicians and governments.  We must hold our governments partially and significantly accountable for Honduras’ State repression.

The United States and Canada are the main governments that have accepted and endorsed the November 29th “elections” as legitimate (“elections” that have served to legitimize the June 28th military coup and sweep under the rug 5 months of repression and killings).

Now, the illegitimate government continues with its repression.  But for the legitimization and support that the Honduran regime is receiving from the USA and Canada, it would not be able to repress with such impunity.


In Honduras: Karen Spring ( and Annie Bird (, tel: [011] 504 9507-3835

Micheletti Says “Adios,” But How Many More Tricks Up His Sleeve?

January 21, 2010

Honduras interim leader leaves Cabinet in charge
The Associated Press
Thursday, January 21, 2010; 10:26 AM

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Interim President Roberto Micheletti says he will step down immediately, leaving his Cabinet in charge a little less than a week before the Central American country’s new leader takes office.

Micheletti says he is voluntarily withdrawing from the public spotlight “because I do not want to be an obstacle to the new government.”

Micheletti told a local television station Thursday that he will take a low profile. He said he will meet with Cabinet members who will take over day-to-day operations until President-elect Porfirio Lobo takes office next Wednesday.

Micheletti was named acting president by Congress after President Manuel Zelaya was hustled out of the country in a June 28 coup.

HAITI: UN “Peacekeepers” in the Gaza Strip of the Caribbean

January 20, 2010

The original article on this topic, “Haiti, the Gaza Strip of the Caribbean,” was written just after a July 6, 2005, UN massacre in Cite Soleil, one of  poorest neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince. The following article has much of the same information as the original with some updates.  In this article, the terms “UN” and “MINUSTAH,” which is the French acronym for the UN “peacekeeping” mission, are used interchangeably.

At the end of the article is a video which shows another massive UN attack on Cite Soleil that took place on December 22, 2006.  The narrator is Kevin Pina, journalist, documentary filmmaker, and special correspondent for KPFA’s Flashpoints program, who lived and reported from Haiti for many years. As you can see, the July 2005 attack, you will read about in this article is not an isolated incident.  

January 20, 2010

Haiti: UN “Peacekeepers” in the Gaza Strip of the Caribbean
by Shirley Pate

Two helicopters flew overhead. At 4:30 a.m., UN forces launched the offensive, shooting into houses, shacks, a church and a school with machine guns, tank fire and tear gas. Eyewitnesses reported that when people fled to escape the tear gas, UN troops gunned them down from the back.”

-– from a report by a San Francisco-based labor/human rights delegation that was in Haiti on Wednesday, July 6, 2005, when UN forces committed a massacre in the neighborhood of Cité Soleil.


Cite Soleil is one of the poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince. The houses form a huge maze of metal and cardboard. While it lacks many things, including running water and electricity, it has abundant support for the democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. And, because of this, its residents became targets.

The UN’s attack in the wee hours of the morning on July 6, 2005, in Cite Soleil, was unlike anything MINUSTAH “peacekeepers” had done in Haiti before. Approximately, 300-400 troops with high-powered weapons, including tank fire, killed close to fifty residents and twice that many were wounded. Of the 26 injured who showed up at Medecins Sans Frontieres’ clinic, 23 were women and children. The flimsy houses offered no protection for the residents. Witnesses reported that the “peacekeepers” walked up and down the narrow streets and allies shooting indiscriminately through doors, killing many while they slept. When you think about how vulnerable the poor residents of Cite Soleil are, the number of soldiers that participated in the attack, the high-caliber weaponry used, combined with  unrestrained arrogance, it was a bloodletting worthy of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and, on that day, Haiti began to look like the Gaza Strip of the Caribbean.

What was this attack all about? There were two targets – one stated, one not. First, a young man by the name of Dred Wilme, who grew up in an orphanage run by Aristide (when he was a priest), had become a leader in Cite Soleil, organizing resistance to the UN occupation. The UN understood early on that Wilme was capable of mobilizing the entire sprawling neighborhood of Cite Soleil, teeming with Aristide supporters. Unfortunately for Wilme, he was too successful at his mission and the UN labelled him a “bandit” and placed him at the top of its most wanted list. During the US Marine occupation from 1915-1934, Marines collectively referred to Haitian as “bandits.” This made killing a Haitian a defensible act. And this is what happened to Wilme – he was killed by UN “peacekeepers” in the July 6 attack. Getting rid of Wilme was a major UN goal, but it also provided the cover for an attack on the whole neighborhood. Not only did the UN want Wilme dead, it wanted to teach the citizens of Cite Soleil a lesson — end the resistance to the occupation and quit agitating for the return of Aristide.

To fully understand the dynamics between MINUSTAH and the Haitian population, one must first understand MINUSTAH’s relationship to the US. On Feb. 29, 2004, the lives of most Haitians changed forever when a U.S.-inspired coup d’état deprived them of their democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. A cabal of the US, France and Canada masterminded and supervised the coup.  Each of these countries (as well as Chile) contributed soldiers to form a multi-national interim force and had boots on the ground in Haiti BEFORE the coup.  Even before Aristide left the country, his fellow citizens were under foreign occupation. Three months later, in June, this force was replaced by UN peacekeepers. The US, not wanting to spend its military muscle in Haiti as it was already up to its eyeballs in Iraq, pushed a  resolution through the UN Security Council authorizing a “peacekeeping” force in Haiti.

The most important thing to know about MINUSTAH is that it is the only force in UN peacekeeping history to be deployed without a specific peacekeeping enforcement mandate.  Normally, peacekeepers are deployed, as neutral actors, to enforce  previously agreed upon peace agreements between warring factions.   There were no “warring” factions in Haiti, only a population completely outraged by the US kidnapping and exile of their president and replacement of him by an illegal, unconstitutional government of the US’ choosing. The coup against Aristide had NO public support. In the first few months after the coup, the Haitian National Police (HNP) ratcheted up the violence against Aristide supporters and assassinations were commonplace. Yet, the people of Haiti kept hitting the streets in massive numbers to protest against the occupation and for Aristide’s return. When MINUSTAH showed up and saw this political tsunami, there was only one word in the “peacekeepers'” job description: containment.

Lacking a true “peacekeeping” mandate, MINUSTAH’s primary responsibility is to support the Government of Haiti. What this really means is “riding shotgun” with the Haitian National Police. And,it was the HNP that showed MINUSTAH how best to “contain” the people. The UN’s first collaboration with the HNP involved serving as “lookouts” while the HNP conducted summary executions in the streets. Then, MINUSTAH graduated to deadly raids of their own and conducted illegal, mass arrests filling the jails and prison with hundreds of people thought to be supporters of Aristide. Actually, the detainees were lucky if they landed in prison. Part of MINUSTAH’s “cooperation” with the HNP was handing detainees over to the Haitian death squads.

No wonder the “peacekeepers” didn’t bat an eye as they conducted the July 6 massacre in Cite Soleil. The UN Security Council created a “peacekeeping” operation in Haiti that has, by all standards, mutated into an occupying IDF-like assault force. And, just like the citizens of Gaza, the residents of Cite Soleil are sitting ducks for one massacre after another. MINUSTAH is the US’ proxy army and it is busy doing its master’s dirty work.

When told of the tragedy of Cite Soleil, most people are incredulous that “peacekeepers” or blue hats (for the Haitians, “casques bleus”) could be capable of such heinous crimes. Most people think of UN peacekeeping as protecting people and making sure that violence comes to an end.

One of the toughest things about doing solidarity work on Haiti is convincing people that peacekeeping missions are often used as political tools to cater to the policy goals of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, especially the US.

And this is the genius of the cabal’s decision to bring the UN to Haiti. With the general belief that peacekeepers are non-belligerent, neutral actors in conflict situations, the Haitian population and Haiti activists around the world applauded the deployment. But, before long, the Haitian people realized that MINUSTAH was THE warring faction and that nothing about its mission is neutral. MINUSTAH’s lack of a traditional peacekeeping enforcement mandate was not a mistake on the part of the UN Security Council, it was purposeful. As permanent members of the Security Council, the U.S. and France have become masters at designing peacekeeping operations to serve their own foreign policy interests. As a result, peacekeeping missions, regardless of mandate, are more insidious and deadly than people realize.

In 1961, UN peacekeepers betrayed the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Patrice Lumumba when they failed to maintain neutrality in the conflict between the central government and Lumumba’s Western-supported opponents. Lumumba was later kidnapped and murdered, leaving the Congolese, for the next 32 years, in the vicious grip of Sese Seko Mobutu, the U.S.’ main man in Africa.

In Bosnia, thousands of Muslims sought safe haven with Dutch-led UN peacekeepers. The peacekeepers yielded to Bosnian Serbs, who kidnapped the Muslims and killed them.

The anemic nature of the UN peacekeeping mandate in Rwanda was intended and resulted in an indescribable genocide that has soiled forever the legacy of UN peacekeeping. Yet, amid the presumed “failures” of each of these UN peacekeeping efforts, powerful interests benefited from the outcomes.

Throughout its occupation of Haiti, MINUSTAH has maintained that its primary goal is to bring peace to Haiti especially in preparation for elections. The problem is that a lot of lousy things are done in the name of “peace.” Not unlike the lousy things that are done in the name of “democracy.”

The same tactics used against the residents of Cite Soleil are the same ones used by the IDF to kill, maim and wreck the lives of Palestinians: aerial attacks, massive use of firepower in dense residential areas, huge numbers of troops, destruction of homes by firebombs and grenades, indiscriminate shooting into homes and not so indiscriminate assassination of residents shot in the back trying to flee the horror.

The July 6 raid in Cite Soleil was not the first raid on the Haitian population, but it was in another class altogether. The arrogance, massive nature and sheer audacity of the operation signaled that, for UN forces, killing Haitians had become sport.

Khan Younis is one of the most god-forsaken refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. In the late afternoon, when the children play outside, the Israeli soldiers have been known to taunt them, through a loud- speaker, with disgusting sexual innuendo about their mothers. The children, incensed, climb the highest hill, perch themselves atop like sitting ducks at the carnival, and engage in their own mini intifada of rocks. The soldiers, having lured the children to the designated target area, play a game of maiming them by calling out the body part they are aiming at before they shoot – sort of like calling out your shot in billiards. Sometimes, a soldier calls for a head shot and the kids are executed on the spot.

This kind of hatred and cruelty is a distinct problem within MINUSTAH and is largely grounded in racism. The make-up of the force in Haiti is mostly Latin American. To the outside world it might seem that.through the UN, brown brother goes to Haiti to help his black brother in a Latin American-Caribbean knot of solidarity. Yet, the unifying theme belies an ugly reality.

Brazil’s populist-seeming president, its overwhelmingly multiracial society and desperate ambition to win a permanent seat on the UN Security Council made it the perfect choice to lead the UN “peacekeeping” effort in Haiti. Yet, this is a country that has over 30 different descriptions used by Brazilians to differentiate themselves from one another based on skin color. This is a country, where an Afro-Brazilian, after attaining a certain level of success, might start referring to himself as white. Racism in Latin America is pervasive and deadly and directed at both Indians and African descendants of slaves. It is much like crabs in a barrel. A crab may find himself close to the bottom of the barrel and will wrestle viciously, perhaps to his own death, to stay on top of the crab just below. This social structure was created and perpetuated by colonial powers in Latin America because they knew they had everything to lose if black, brown, and red ever got together. Like most conflicts of imperial intent, manipulating racial tensions is key to ensuring that people of color stay engaged in the dirty business of fighting one another. And, for the UN “peacekeepers” in Haiti, belief in the inherent inferiority of those whose land you occupy is an essential element of occupation.

Haiti is Gaza and Gaza is Haiti because occupation always yields the same things: relentless provocations of the population, murder on a massive scale, oppression, persecution, incarceration, disenfranchisement, joblessness, homelessness, starvation and, thankfully, resistance.

It’s a wicked, purposeful merry-go-round of peace through provocation : profess peace, provoke those whose land you occupy until they resist, label the resistance a criminal, gang mongering, raping, murdering “threat to peace” and then it’s open season for the occupier. This method has worked quite well for the IDF.

Just like the meaningless UN resolutions demanding an end to the slaughter in Palestine, it is doubtful that we will see any sanctions against the coup plotters or the UN “peacekeepers” for their crimes against humanity. No doubt the UN will issue its cheerful press releases re-emphasizing its commitment to peace and democracy in Haiti and the incursions into the popular neighborhoods for a night of sport will continue.

But this will not go on forever. How will it stop? The UN would do well to check out the Haitian history books for an answer to this question. There, they might learn they are occupying the land of the sons and daughters of Dessalines. If the UN is unable to grasp the significance of this, they should seek clarification from the French.

Shirley Pate is a Haiti solidarity activist in Washington, D.C. Email her at




VIDEO: UN “Peacekeepers” and US Troops Repress Haitians at P-au-P Airport

January 20, 2010

The following video, in Spanish,  is not very clear, but, as they say, you get the picture.  A reporter for Cuban TV is covering the repression of a group of Haitian men at the airport.  While the video says it is US troops playing the  tough guys, it is primarily the UN’s peacekeepers (blue helmets or as Haitians say, “casques blues”) with occasional assists from the US military in the head cracking department.  The UN “peacekeepers” carry visions of Rambo wherever they go in Haiti always trying to provoke a fight.  More on this issue later in an article I’m about to finish:  “HAITI:  The Gaza Strip of the Caribbean.”  Stay tuned!

HAITI AFTERSHOCK: 6.1 Earthquake Near Port-au-Prince

January 20, 2010


Haiti Aftershock: 6.1 Earthquake Near Port-au-Prince

PAUL HAVEN and MICHELLE FAUL | 01/20/10 09:07 AM | AP

Haiti Aftershock
Haiti Aftershock: A 6.0 earthquake has struck Haiti.
Photo of survivors from last week’s 7.0 earthquake
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The most powerful aftershock yet struck Haiti on Wednesday, shaking more rubble from damaged buildings and sending screaming people running into the streets eight days after the country’s capital was devastated by an apocalyptic quake.

The magnitude-6.1 temblor was the largest of more than 40 significant aftershocks that have followed the Jan. 12 quake. The extent of additional damage or injuries was not immediately clear.

Wails of terror rose from frightened survivors as the earth shuddered at 6:03 a.m. U.S. soldiers and tent city refugees alike raced for open ground, and clouds of dust rose in the capital.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Wednesday’s quake was centered about 35 miles (60 kilometers) northwest of Port-au-Prince and 6.2 miles (9.9 kilometers) below the surface – a little further from the capital than last week’s epicenter was.

“It kind of felt like standing on a board on top of a ball,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Steven Payne. The 27-year-old from Jolo, West Virginia was preparing to hand out food to refugees in a tent camp of 25,000 quake victims when the aftershock hit.

Last week’s magnitude-7 quake killed an estimated 200,000 people in Haiti, left 250,000 injured and made 1.5 million homeless, according to the European Union Commission.

The strong aftershock prompted Anold Fleurigene, 28, to grab his wife and three children and head to the city bus station. His house was destroyed in the first quake and his sister and brother killed.

“I’ve seen the situation here, and I want to get out,” he said.

A massive international aid effort has been struggling with logistical problems, and many Haitians are still desperate for food and water.

Still, search-and-rescue teams have emerged from the ruins with some improbable success stories – including the rescue of 69-year-old ardent Roman Catholic who said she prayed constantly during her week under the rubble.

Ena Zizi had been at a church meeting at the residence of Haiti’s Roman Catholic archbishop when the Jan. 12 quake struck, trapping her in debris. On Tuesday, she was rescued by a Mexican disaster team.

Zizi said after the quake, she spoke back and forth with a vicar who also was trapped. But he fell silent after a few days, and she spent the rest of the time praying and waiting.

“I talked only to my boss, God,” she said. “I didn’t need any more humans.”

Doctors who examined Zizi on Tuesday said she was dehydrated and had a dislocated hip and a broken leg.

Elsewhere in the capital, two women were pulled from a destroyed university building. And near midnight Tuesday, a smiling and singing 26-year-old Lozama Hotteline was carried to safety from a collapsed store in the Petionville neighborhood by the French aid group Rescuers Without Borders.

Crews at the cathedral recovered the body of the archbishop, Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot, who was killed in the Jan. 12 quake.

Authorities said close to 100 people had been pulled from wrecked buildings by international search-and-rescue teams. Efforts continued, with dozens of teams hunting through Port-au-Prince’s crumbled homes and buildings for signs of life.

But the good news was overshadowed by the frustrating fact that the world still can’t get enough food and water to the hungry and thirsty.

“We need so much. Food, clothes, we need everything. I don’t know whose responsibility it is, but they need to give us something soon,” said Sophia Eltime, a 29-year-old mother of two who has been living under a bedsheet with seven members of her extended family.

The World Food Program said more than 250,000 ready-to-eat food rations had been distributed in Haiti by Tuesday, reaching only a fraction of the 3 million people thought to be in desperate need.

The WFP said it needs to deliver 100 million ready-to-eat rations in the next 30 days, but it only had 16 million meals in the pipeline.

Even as U.S. troops landed in Seahawk helicopters Tuesday on the manicured lawn of the ruined National Palace, the colossal efforts to help Haiti were proving inadequate because of the scale of the disaster. Expectations exceeded what money, will and military might have been able to achieve.

So far, international relief efforts have been unorganized, disjointed and insufficient to satisfy the great need. Doctors Without Borders says a plane carrying urgently needed surgical equipment and drugs has been turned away five times, even though the agency received advance authorization to land.

A statement from Partners in Health, co-founded by the deputy U.N. envoy to Haiti, Dr. Paul Farmer, said the group’s medical director estimated 20,000 people are dying each day who could be saved by surgery.

“TENS OF THOUSANDS OF EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS NEED EMERGENCY SURGICAL CARE NOW!!!!!” the group said in the statement. It did not describe the basis for that estimate.

The reasons are varied:

_ Both national and international authorities suffered great losses in the quake, taking out many of the leaders best suited to organize a response.

_ Woefully inadequate infrastructure and a near-complete failure in telephone and Internet communications have complicated efforts to reach millions of people forced from their homes.

_ Fears of looting and violence have kept aid groups and governments from moving as quickly as they would like.

_ Pre-existing poverty and malnutrition put some at risk even before the quake hit.

Governments have pledged nearly $1 billion in aid, and thousands of tons of food and medical supplies have been shipped. But much remains trapped in warehouses, or diverted to the neighboring Dominican Republic. Port-au-Prince’s nonfunctioning seaport and many impassable roads complicate efforts to get aid to the people.

Aid is being turned back from the single-runway airport, where the U.S. military has been criticized by some of poorly prioritizing flights. The U.S. Air Force said it had raised the facility’s daily capacity from 30 flights before the quake to 180 on Tuesday.

About 2,200 U.S. Marines established a beachhead west of Port-au-Prince on Tuesday to help speed aid delivery, in addition to 9,000 Army soldiers already on the ground. Lt. Cmdr. Walter Matthews, a U.S. military spokesman, said helicopters were ferrying aid from the airport into Port-au-Prince and the nearby town of Jacmel as fast as they could.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the military will send a port-clearing ship with cranes aboard to Port-au-Prince to remove debris that is preventing many larger aid ships from docking.

The U.N. was sending in reinforcements as well: The Security Council voted Tuesday to add 2,000 peacekeepers to the 7,000 already in Haiti, and 1,500 more police to the 2,100-strong international force.

“The floodgates for aid are starting to open,” Matthews said at the airport. “In the first few days, you’re limited by manpower, but we’re starting to bring people in.”

The WFP’s Alain Jaffre said the U.N. agency hoped to help 100,000 people by Wednesday.

Hanging over the entire effort was an overwhelming fear among relief officials that Haitians’ desperation would boil over into violence.

“We’ve very concerned about the level of security we need around our people when we’re doing distributions,” said Graham Tardif, who heads disaster-relief efforts for the charity World Vision. The U.N., the U.S. government and other organizations have echoed such fears.

Occasionally, those fears have been borne out. Looters rampaged through part of downtown Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, just four blocks from where U.S. troops landed at the presidential palace. Hundreds of looters fought over bolts of cloth and other goods with broken bottles and clubs.

USGS geophysicist Bruce Pressgrave said nobody knows if a still-stronger aftershock is possible.

“Aftershocks sometimes die out very quickly,” he said. “In other cases they can go on for weeks, or if we’re really unlucky it could go on for months” as the earth adjusts to the new stresses caused by the initial quake.


Associated Press writers contributing include Paul Haven, Michael Melia, Jonathan M. Katz, Michelle Faul and Vivian Sequera in Port-au-Prince; medical writer Margie Mason in Hanoi, Vietnam; Charles J. Hanley in Mexico City; Lori Hinnant in New York; Tales Azzoni in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations; and Seth Borenstein, Pauline Jelinek, Anne Flaherty and Jennifer Loven in Washington.

Venezuela Sends Needed Gasoline and Diesel to Haiti – Press Release

January 20, 2010


In English and Spanish 

Venezuela Sends Needed Gasoline and Diesel to Haiti
Shipment for Generation of Electricity and Vehicles Will Arrive ThursdayEmbassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Press and Communications Office/ Jannuary 19,  2010

In response to severe gasoline shortages that have plagued Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck the island nation on January 12, President Hugo Chavez announced that Venezuela would provide Haiti with all the gasoline and diesel that it needs. He made the announcement on his weekly talk show, Alo Presidente, on Sunday, January 17.

A shipment of 225,000 barrels of gasoline and diesel from PDVSA, Venezuela’s state owned oil company, will be received on Thursday by the Refineria Dominicana de Petroleo, S.A. (Refidomsa) refinery in the Dominican Republic for use in Haiti. The shipment will include gasoline and other oil products for the generation of electricity and for vehicles, including airplanes.

Prior to the earthquake, Haiti consumed 11,000 barrels of oil products per day.

Since the earthquake struck, Haiti has suffered gas shortages that have hampered search-and-rescue operations, the delivery of aid and basic reconstruction efforts.

On January 13 Venezuela sent a C-130 transport plane to Port-au-Prince with supplies, tools, food, doctors and a specialized humanitarian team. A second flight carried needed medicines, sanitation equipment, water and a variety of food products. Since the earthquake struck, Venezuela has sent over 5,000 metric tons of foodstuffs for use in Haiti.

A sixth shipment of humanitarian assistance took place on Monday, January 18, with two cargo ships bearing 125 soldiers and humanitarian workers, 616 tons of foodstuffs and 116 tons of machinery for reconstruction.

On Monday two additional shipments from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA, in Spanish) left the coastal state of Carabobo with 4,761 tons of foodstuffs.

Venezuela’s links to Haiti are historic. Venezuela’s first flag was created in 1806 by independence hero Francisco de Miranda while in Haiti. Additionally, one of Simon Bolivar’s most important expeditions for Venezuela’s independence in 1816 was support by Haiti’s then president, Alexandre Petion, who asked in return that Bolivar free slaves held in Venezuela.

Since 2007, Haiti has been part of Venezuela’s PetroCaribe initiative, through which it has received its oil at preferential financing rates and benefited from the direct commercialization of hydrocarbon products without intermediaries. 


Venezuela envía gasolina y diesel necesitado en Haití
El jueves llegará cargamento con combustible para la generación eléctrica y vehículos Unidad de Prensa y Comunicaciones de la Embajada de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela en EE UU/ 19 de enero de 2010

En respuesta a la carencia de combustible que ha afectado a Haití ante el devastador terremoto que  sacudió a esta nación el 12 de enero, el presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez anunció que Venezuela donará a Haití toda la gasolina y diesel que sea necesario. El anuncio lo hizo el jefe de Estado el domingo 17 de enero en su programa dominical, Aló Presidente.

Pdvsa, la compañía estatal petrolera venezolana reportó el envío de 225 mil barriles de diesel y gasolina, que serán recibidos en la Refinería Dominicana de Petróleo, S.A. (Refidomsa) a más tardar este jueves. El cargamento incluye combustibles para la generación  eléctrica y vehículos, incluyendo aviones.

En condiciones normales, Haití consume en promedio aproximadamente 11 mil barriles diarios de productos derivados del petróleo.

Desde el terremoto, Haití ha sufrido carencias de combustible que han afectado las operaciones de rescate, la distribución de ayuda y los esfuerzos iniciales de reconstrucción.

El 13 de enero, Venezuela envió un avión C-13 a Puerto Príncipe con alimentos, herramientas, doctores y expertos en operaciones de rescate. Un segundo avión llevó medicinas, equipos sanitarios, agua y variedad de productos alimenticios. Desde el terremoto Venezuela han enviado más de 5 mil toneladas de alimentos a Haití.

El sexto envío de asistencia humanitaria se realizó este lunes 19 de enero, a través de dos buques con 125 personas –entre profesionales y tropa profesional— y se trasladan un total de 616 toneladas de alimentos de diferentes rubros, además de 116 toneladas en maquinaria para la reconstrucción.

También este lunes, zarparon rumbo a Haití dos embarcaciones de la Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (Alba) desde  el estado Carabobo, con 4 mil 761 toneladas de alimentos.

Los vínculos de Venezuela con Haití son históricos. La primera bandera venezolana fue creada en 1806 por el héroe de la independencia Francisco de Miranda, estando en Haití. Una de las más importante expediciones de Simón Bolívar en la lucha por la independencia venezolana (1816), se realizó con el apoyo del entonces presidente de Haití, Alexandre Petion, quién sólo solicitó a cambio que se le diera libertad a los esclavos.

Haití es parte desde 2007 de la iniciativa venezolana Petrocaribe,  a través de la cual recibe los beneficios de la comercialización directa de hidrocarburos sin intermediarios y las facilidades de financiamiento de su demanda de combustibles.

SCAHILL- HAITI: US Security Company Offers to Do “High Threat Terminations” and Confront “Worker Unrest”

January 19, 2010

US Security Company Offers to Perform “High Threat Terminations” and to Confront “Worker Unrest” in Haiti

Here we go: New Orleans 2.0

By Jeremy Scahill

We saw this type of Iraq-style disaster profiteering in New Orleans and you can expect to see a lot more of this in Haiti over the coming days, weeks and months. Private security companies are seeing big dollar signs in Haiti thanks in no small part to the media hype about “looters.” After Katrina, the number of private security companies registered (and unregistered) multiplied overnight. Banks, wealthy individuals, the US government all hired private security. I even encountered Israeli mercenaries operating an armed check-point outside of an elite gated community in New Orleans. They worked for a company called Instinctive Shooting International. (That is not a joke).

Now, it is kicking into full gear in Haiti. As we know, the member companies of the Orwellian-named mercenary trade association, the International Peace Operations Association, are offering their services in Haiti. But look for more stories like this one:

On January 15, a Florida based company called All Pro Legal Investigations registered the URL It is basically a copy of the company’s existing US website but is now targeted for business in Haiti, claiming the “purpose of this site is to act as a clearinghouse for information seekers on the state of security in Haiti.”

“All Protection and Security has made a commitment to the Haitian community and will provide professional security against any threat to prosperity in Haiti,” the site proclaims. “Job sites and supply convoys will be protected against looters and vandals. Workers will be protected against gang violence and intimidation. The people of Haiti will recover, with the help of the good people from the world over.”

The company boasts that it has run “Thousands of successful missions in Iraq & Afghanistan.” As for its personnel, “Each and every member of our team is a former Law Enforcement Officer or former Military service member,” the site claims. “If Operator experience, training and qualifications matter, choose All Protection & Security for your high-threat Haiti security needs.”

Among the services offered are: “High Threat terminations,” dealing with “worker unrest,” armed guards and “Armed Cargo Escorts.” Oh, and apparently they are currently hiring.

Upping the Ante: More US Soldiers, More “Peacekeepers,” and More Haitians Tell UN to Go to Hell on the “Looting” Thing

January 19, 2010


Last News Haiti earthquake
January 19, 2010

U.S. troops spread throughout the capital, U.N. Security Council votes to send more forces. The Paris Club asks creditors to forgive the nation’s debt.

U.S. forces fanned out in Haiti’s ruined capital today as part of a building global relief effort that still had yet to reach hundreds of thousands of needy residents a week after the devastating 7.0 earthquake.

In Port-au-Prince, aid workers, supplies and U.S. troops continued to flow in in increasing numbers. A number of U.S. military helicopters touched down on the grounds of the damaged presidential palace this morning, dropping off more than 100 U.S. troops, according to wire-service reports.

Meanwhile, the world’s relief effort included a call this morning by the Paris Club of international creditors for wealthy nations to cancel debts owed by Haiti so that it can rebuild. And in New York, the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution to raise its own cap on the size of its peacekeeping mission in Haiti, increasing the number of troops by 2,000 and police officers by 1,500.

In Haiti’s capital, U.S. troops, in full combat gear, unloaded boxes of water bottles and food rations and appeared to be setting up a base at the palace, Reuters reported.

Haitians crowded the fence of the compound to watch, and some cheered as soldiers arrived, news reports said.

Several thousand more soldiers and Marines began arriving on Monday as part of a U.S. mobilization that involved more than 10,000 troops. They will provide food and water and will work to repair the badly damaged seaport to permit the delivery of larger quantities of goods. Troops also were standing by to help provide security amid scattered reports of looting and gunfire in the capital.

U.S. forces already are running the city’s airport, which has been the main portal for thousands of tons of emergency supplies and rescuers.

Offshore, a growing flotilla of U.S. vessels serves as a floating military base and airport for aircraft delivering goods. Some injured Haitians also have been airlifted to the ships for emergency medical treatment.

The Paris Club, an informal grouping of creditor governments from industrialized countries that meets monthly in Paris, said members agreed in July to cancel debts that at the time totaled $214 million. Today, it called on other creditors to follow suit.

“Considering the financing needs that Haiti will face in reconstructing the country, Paris Club creditors call upon other bilateral creditors also to urgently provide full debt cancellation to Haiti,” the group said in a statement.

The group estimated that Haiti’s total public external debt stood at nearly $1.9 billion in September 2008.

The U.N.’s decision today to raise the cap on the size of its peacekeeping mission in Haiti brings the total U.N. force to 8,940 troops and 3,711 police officers on the ground to deal with the disaster. What is unclear is how soon the additional troops and officers will get there.

Radio Metropole, citing Haitian government officials, reported today that the bodies of 70,000 quake victims had been buried so far.

The Haitian government has mobilized as well as it could to remove the dead, clear debris and move survivors to the provinces to relieve pressure on the relief effort. On Monday, public buses traveled the road west out of Port-au-Prince filled with people and luggage heading out of town.

The government, weak in the best of circumstances, was trying to function from a yard outside a police station near the airport. Many government buildings in the center of the city — including the National Palace, Parliament, the health and foreign ministries and Port-au-Prince city hall — were destroyed.

Looters pilfered from a wholesale food market on the Grand Rue downtown Monday afternoon. U.N. and Haitian police tried to stop them, to no avail.

“The population was throwing stones at us to stop us from preventing the looting,” said Gabriel Diallo, a United Nations officer from Guinea. “They said we can’t stop them from looting the food because they were hungry.”

The looters then burned down the store, sending a black cloud into the air that added one more dystopian element to the scene.

As the police stood by a block away, two gunshots rang out from the main street.

On Monday, the 82nd Airborne carried out its first air drop of food and water in Port-au-Prince. A C-17 cargo plane dropped 40 pallets of water and packaged military meals at a secured drop zone in the city, said Maj. Brian Fickel, a spokesman for the division at Ft. Bragg, N.C.

The food and water were wrapped in canvas and attached to parachutes for the drop. The delivery had to be made away from crowds to avoid injuries, Fickel said. The pallets contained 14,000 gallons of bottled water and 15,000 meals.

The Navy stopped doing food drops from helicopters over the weekend because of the chaos it was creating with no security on the ground.

In the suburb of Carrefour on Monday, people gathered in a field where the Navy had done four food drops over the weekend. At 2 p.m., a helicopter circled and then left.

One man said the crowd mobbed the helicopters each time they landed, forcing the Navy crew to dump the boxes of bottled water and military rations from the air.

“People started fighting. They are pulling machetes on each other,” he said. “Some of them got some. Some didn’t.”

U.S. troops will not take on a policing role, and security will remain the primary responsibility of the U.N., Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told reporters during a flight to India. But he added that U.S. forces distributing aid had the ability to defend themselves and others.

“Anywhere we deploy out troops, they have the authority and right to defend themselves,” Gates said. “They also have the right to defend innocent Haitians and other members of the international community if they see something happening.”

European Union bodies and member states have offered more than $400 million in relief and recovery aid. The Obama administration already has pledged $100 million in U.S. emergency aid.

In a sign that the relief effort was picking up steam, the U.N. World Food Program said Monday it would hand out 220 tons of ready-to-eat meals to 95,000 Haitians, an increase over the 67,000 people fed a day earlier.

The agency planned to hand out 10 million meals, plus rice and high-energy biscuits, during the next week, and estimated that it would need to provide 100 million meals during the next 30 days.

Witness for Peace Video: HONDURAS – “Shot in the Back”

January 19, 2010




 Dear Supporter,I know your heart, like mine, breaks over and over as new reports come out of Haiti. While we continue to remember Haiti and support the rescue and rebuilding efforts, we cannot forget the other disasters ongoing in the hemisphere. Today I ask you to give some room in your heart to the tragedy in Honduras.Please take just ten short minutes to watch Shot in the Back. This newest Witness for Peace Productions video chronicles the ongoing violence facing Hondurans. Over a month after national elections that the U.S. administration claimed would restore democracy, community activists and local leaders continue to receive death threats and intimidation. We must continue to stand with human rights leaders seeking justice.

You can help keep U.S. military aid out of the hands of human rights abusers in Honduras. After you watch the video, please click here to send a message to President Obama today calling on him to continue to suspend all U.S. military aid to the brutal Honduran security forces.

Our partners are asking us to help them amplify their voices. Please take a few minutes to send this video out to anyone you know who cares about protecting human rights and democracy by forwarding this email, through Facebook, or both.

We cannot do this important work without you.

In solidarity,

Sharon Hostetler
Executive Director

P.S. See for yourself the tragic long-term effects of the coup portrayed in the new WFP video. Join us as we return to Honduras April 3-11, 2010, to stand in solidarity with courageous leaders who continue to put their lives at risk to create a new world for themselves and their communities.



Politics of the Earthquake: Respect the People of Haiti

January 19, 2010

  January 18, 2010

Politics of The Earthquake: Respect the People of Haiti

By Robert Roth
Haiti Action Committee

In June of 2004, I went to Haiti with two other members of the Haiti Action Committee. We were there to investigate the effects of the political earthquake in which the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide had been overthrown by a coup orchestrated by the United States, France and Canada.

What we saw still resonates. Hundreds of families who had had to flee their homes in the face of repression, thousands of grass roots activists in prison because of their association with Aristide’s Lavalas movement, literacy projects and schools destroyed, community-based activists forced into exile, Haiti returned to elite control in the name of “stability” and “security”.

We also saw the beginnings of the United Nations occupation, labeled “peacekeeping” by UN (Minustah) authorities, but clearly seen by the popular movement as the beginning of an international take-over of Haiti

The coup devastated Haiti. It shattered the promises of a truly democratic period in Haitian history. It interrupted a process of building schools (more schools were built under Lavalas governments than had been built in all of Haitian history), establishing health clinics and parks in the poorest communities, support for literacy efforts among women, respect for the indigenous religion of Vodou, and a commitment to the development of Haitian agriculture in the face of the flooding of Haitian markets by U.S. goods.

Six years later, here we are. Fanmi Lavalas, the most popular political party in Haiti, has been banned from participating in elections, with the full support of the United States. The Preval government has tailored its policies to what the United States demands, rather than to what the people need. There is a deep fissure between the people and the official government, a deep gap between the occupied and the occupiers.

Yes, the earthquake was a violent natural disaster, presenting overwhelming challenges to any government or any aid responders. Yet, it is clear that this natural disaster — just like that of Hurricane Katrina — is compounded by a political failure, the continuation of generations of assaults against Haiti, and — in particular — a brutal UN/US occupation that has brought to a grinding halt the promise of the Aristide years.

Now we watch the U.S. gear up for a massive military operation in Haiti, while people die due to lack of medicine, or starve while food supplies sit on the airport tarmac. We see the pictures of families digging their relatives out of the rubble, with no aid in sight. We read the usual racist slurs against Haitians, called “scavengers” or “looters” when, after many days with no assistance, they look for food and water in abandoned homes. We read that the problems of Haiti are rooted in “their culture and religious beliefs”, rather than in the harsh realities of colonialism and occupation. We hear CNN reports of a field hospital being ordered out of a community for “security reasons” by the United Nations, even in the face of wounded and dying people. And we read that Doctors Without Borders cargo planes were denied landing space in Port-au-Prince by U.S. military authorities.

This is a time to respect the resiliency and courage of the Haitian people. It is a time for aid, not charity, for solidarity not a U.S. military take-over. And it is a time to return President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to his homeland.


January 19, 2010

January 19, 2010
Haiti’s Classquake

By Jeb Sprague

Just five days prior to the 7.0 earthquake that shattered Port-au-Prince on January 12th, the Haitian government’s Council of Modernisation of Public Enterprises (CMEP) announced the planned 70% privatization of Teleco, Haiti’s public telephone company.

Today Port-au-Prince lies in ruins, with thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands dead, entire neighborhoods cut off, many buried alive.  Towns across the southern peninsula, such as Léogâne, are said to be in total ruin with an untold number of victims.   Haiti’s president, René Préval, and his administration remain largely inept, absent from Port-au-Prince and even the local radio.

At Pont Morin in the Bois Verna section of the capital, Teleco’s office building is badly damaged.  One twitter poster in Port-au-Prince on Monday warned local residents to evacuate “After the latest evaluations of the building, they’ve noticed that the main poles of the structure are damaged.”

With masses of people unable to get critical emergency medical care, water and basic supplies, the lack of local state infrastructure and personnel is plainly apparent.

Instead of investing in social programs and government infrastructure that could have helped care for the people of Port-au-Prince, especially following such a natural disaster, Haiti’s government has long been pressured by the United States and International Financial Institutions to sell off its infrastructure, to shut down government sponsored soup kitchens, to lower tariffs that might benefit the rural economy.

The demographic trend in Haiti over the last few decade’s showcases the impact of capitalist globalization: the movement of rural folks to slums in Port-au-Prince, often perched in large clumps precariously on hillsides.

“Slums begin with bad geology,” writer and historian Mike Davis explains. In his book Planet of Slums, Davis describes the explosion of slum communities in today’s era of global capitalism. Billions have no choice but to live in close proximity to environmental and geological disaster, Davis explains.

In mid-2007, Haitian journalist Wadner Pierre and I wrote a piece for IPS (Inter Press Service) that investigated the gutting of Haiti’s public telephone company. We interviewed public sector workers laid off in droves. The government’s plan was to reduce Teleco employees from 3,293 to less than one thousand. By 2010 Préval’s appointed heads of Teleco had terminated employment for two-thirds of the workers at the company. During his first term in office from 1996-2001, Préval had already sold off the government’s Minoterie flourmill and public cement company.

Préval now follows through with the Cadre de Coopération Intérimaire (CCI), a macro-economic adjustment program formulated by his unelected predecessor (the interim regime of Gerard Latortue), along with international donor institutions and local sub-grantee groups. Privatization has been one plank of neoliberalism in Haiti.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Haiti was pressured to lower tariffs on foreign rice, bringing down the few protections in place for its local economy. With a lack of opportunity in the countryside, migration to the nation’s capital intensified. Hundreds of thousands took up residence in poorly constructed shantytowns, many in hillside slums such as Carrefour.

Using the worn-out rhetoric of nationalism to draw attention away from the implementation of policies favorable to global capitalism, government functionaries in Haiti have worked closely with IFI, NGO and governmental advisors and experts from abroad.   For those Haitian politicians unwilling to go along with these plans, the brute force of coup d’états, economic embargo and reoccurring civil society training missions from abroad have reinforced the “right way” to govern.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, the Haitian state evaporated. Police searched for their own loved-ones, as government ministries and UN bases lay in ruins, many top officials now dead under tons of fallen concrete.

 Widely criticized for failing in the days following the quake to visit or speak out on the radio to the neighborhoods of the capital in turmoil, Préval and other aloof Haitian government leaders have been encamped at a police station on the cities edge meeting with foreign leaders and journalists.  On Tuesday Préval went to Santo Domingo in the neighboring Dominican Republic to confer further with aid officials.

The Washington Post explained “The U.S. government views Préval, an agronomist by training, as a technocrat largely free of the sharp political ideologies that have divided Haiti for
decades. But at a time when tragedy is forcing the country essentially to begin again, Préval’s aversion to the public stage has left millions of Haitians wondering whether there is a government at all.”

 Hundreds of journalists have streamed into Port-au-Prince, while the U.S. military has set up base-camp at the damaged national airport with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the ground.  Giving priority to unloading heavy weaponry, U.S. forces have turned away a number of large planes carrying medical and rescue equipment, prompting protests from France, Venezuela and the Médecins sans frontières.

 International media outlets show images of Haitians digging with pieces of concrete at collapsed buildings. But over the days the cries of loved ones buried below have slowly fallen silent.

 Other media have begun to show images of poor people in the capital’s downtown searching for food, calling them “looters”, when in fact mass starvation occurs as shotgun-wielding security guards attempt to cordon off the rubble of some of the larger markets.

 Given the past decades of forced austerity measures imposed upon Haiti, it has been nearly impossible for the country to build up a larger government, one with more capacity to deal with emergencies, to support social investment projects, soup kitchens, or even improved slum housing. The overthrown Aristide government, 2001-2004, though severely crippled by aid embargoes and elite-backed death squads and opposition groups, had refused privatization, instituted a national program of soup kitchens and literacy centers, and even constructed a few blocks of improved slum housing in the capital (as covered at the time in an article by the former government newspaper L’Union).

Those small but welcome measures are a thing of the past.  The repression of attempts by the people to have a say through democratic means and the forced subjugation of the local economy to global capitalism parallels the assumption of power by elites disconnected from the people they govern.  These are the technocratic elites that Sociologist William I. Robinson in his book A Theory of Global Capitalim refers to as “transnationalised fractions of local dominant groups in the South…sometimes termed a ‘modernizing bourgeoisie’, who have overseen sweeping processes of social and economic restructuring and integration into the global economy and society.”  Out from the ashes, do not be surprised if the Haitian people refuse to accept this.

Geographer Kenneth Hewitt coined the term ‘classquake’ in examining the 1976 earthquake in Guatemala that cost the lives of 23,000 people, because of the accuracy with which it struck down the poor. The classquake in Haiti today is much worse, compounded by decades of capitalist globalization and U.S. intervention.

Jeb Sprague received a Project Censored Award in 2008 for an article he published with the Inter Press Service (IPS) from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Visit his university website:

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

January 19, 2010

 (Jim Ridgeway has been writing about Haiti for many, many years — and it shows in this excellent article.) 

Monday, 18 January 2010 15:20

By James Ridgeway, Reader Supported News

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

By James Ridgeway, Reader Supported News  
Monday, 18 January 2010 15:20

A boy watches a passing helicopter as Haitians line up to receive high-protein biscuits being handed out by the World Food Program with the assistance of United Nations troops. (photo-caption: Carolyn Cole, LA Times)

“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.

Reader Supported News | Perspective

Lè 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.