Tag Archives: Haiti

Haiti: “Between Hope and Reality”

A New York Times editorial reports the stark reality that three years after the devastating Haiti earthquake, little has changed.

“On the eve of the third anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010, the country remains in a fragile state. Billions of dollars in aid and lofty promises to “build back better” have brought it only so far. A recent article by Deborah Sontag of The Times showed, in disheartening detail, the distance between hope and reality.” [full editorial]

The sad truth is that billions were raised and people still suffer and die.

Three years ago, I wrote about the need for structural change, rather than the best of intentions and fundraising only when the spotlight was turned on.

“Tears,” I wrote, “must be replaced by an unprecedented international commitment to rescue Haiti for all times.”

My commentary at the time on PBS-World Focus: “Between Hope and Reality”

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Aristide poised to return–the Haitian enigma

Haiti’s deposed president, Jean Bertrand-Aristide, appears poised to return to Haiti after a seven-year forced exile. Undoubtedly his presence in Port-au-Prince will change the dynamics of Haitian politics, despite any protestations he will stay on the sideline.

Aristide, the former priest who twice was elected president of his country, was essentially tricked out of office in 2004 by U.S. operatives during the George W. Bush administration and flown out of the country.

I accompanied him with a group of his supporters — including Rep. Maxine Waters of California and Randall Robinson, the founder of TransAfrica–who helped negotiate his release from virtual house arrest in the Central African Republic. I spoke with Aristide for hours in Africa and on the cross-Atlantic journey; he was cordial, considerate, intelligent, empathetic, yet at the same time enigmatic at every turn, never absolutely clear on his analysis of Haiti and his role there.

The Bush administration blocked Aristide’s return to Haiti and convinced the South African government to take him in. There he has been ever since, and the U.S. government again has been setting up roadblocks to his return to Port-au-Prince, where he says he will stay out of politics.

Amy Wilentz — there is no better analyst of Haiti that I know of — has written an analysis of Aristide and what he means to Haiti on the NY Times op-ed page.

In two lines, she encapsulates the problem:

Finding himself alone in a political sea of the entitled and the empowered, Mr. Aristide believed that all he could trust in the end was the brute power of the street — the “rouleau compresseur,” as it is called in Haitian politics, or the steamroller.

He was almost pathologically reluctant to work toward agreement among his advisers, among equals. He shares this distaste with many Haitians, who believe that theirs is a fatally polarized society and that consensus-building here almost inevitably leads to capitulation to the elite, and by extension to the international community.

Haiti has elections this weekend, which may be beside the point: ongoing inequity and suffering. More than a year after the Haitian earthquake, the situation for hundreds of thousands there remains dire. Track the non-profit medical-relief organization, Partners in Health, for Haiti and its needs.

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Haiti – Surviving on Mud Cookies

Several of us at our late, lamented PBS international news program, WorldFocus, have just been nominated for an Emmy for one of the Haiti stories we worked on last year. The emphasis, especially now, however, should be that Haiti deserves — and cries out more than ever for — a global response to misery and impoverishment that was unbearable even before the earthquake.

I urge continued support to relief agencies in Haiti. My designated favorite is Partners in Health, www.pih.org, founded by Paul Farmer.

here’s the original story


July 15, 2010
Nominations Announced for 31st Annual News & Documentary Emmy® Awards



Worldfocus PBS
Haiti: Mud Cookies
Benno Schmidt
Ara Ayer
Executive Producer
Marc Rosenwasser
Editorial Producer
Peter Eisner

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