Daily Dispatch 9/13/2019: There are no natural disasters

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Daily Dispatch

September 13, 2019


The Mudd after Dorian

In the area of Marsh Harbor on Abaco Island in the Bahamas was a small, impoverished community that was mostly home to Haitians. The Mudd, as it was known, was wiped out during Hurricane Dorian. We do not know how many people perished. Lack of communication and lack of options meant there was no coordinated evacuation of the area. There is little left now. Those who did survive have nothing but the clothes they are wearing. Some have been relocated to Nassau. Others are still in the ruins Marsh Harbor trying to decide what to do next. From AP:

Some dazed survivors of Hurricane Dorian made their way back to a shantytown where they used to live, hoping to gather up some of their soggy belongings.

The community was known as The Mudd — or “Da Mudd,” as it’s often pronounced — and it was built by thousands of Haitian migrants over decades. It was razed in a matter of hours by Dorian, which reduced it to piles of splintered plywood and two-by-fours 4 and 5 feet deep, spread over an area equal to several football fields.

A helicopter buzzed overhead as people picked through the debris, avoiding a body that lay tangled underneath a tree branch next to twisted sheets of corrugated metal, its hands stretched toward the sky. It was one of at least nine bodies that people said they had seen in the area.

“Ain’t nobody come to get them,” said Cardot Ked, a 43-year-old carpenter from Haiti who has lived 25 years in Abaco. “If we could get to the next island, that’s the best thing we can do.”

Migration from Haiti

Following the earthquake in 2010, and in the face of the slow, but continuous economic decline since, more and more people are leaving Haiti. They have gone to Brazil and Chile, and more recently walked thousands of miles to seek asylum at the U.S./Mexico border. Hundreds have relocated permanently in border towns like Tijuana, with little or no chance of ever getting into the United States. Many more people have boarded onto small boats and sought refuge in other countries of the Caribbean. In the Bahamas, and elsewhere, these more recent migrants from Haiti join with communities established during earlier periods of exodus – especially the period from the fall of Duvalier in the mid-1980s through the coup d’etat against Aristide’s first government in 1991 and the reinstatement of the elected government in 1995. 

The Mudd was one of these communities. People fleeing the violence of the late 1980s and early 1990s, settled in the Bahamas, where Haitians had been engaged with the local economy for decades. From the 1980s forward, though, resentment against Haitian migrants began to grow more pronounced. As a result, communities like the Mudd were isolated socially, even as the labor of the people who lived there was utilized in the hotels of Marsh Harbor and other tourist businesses. There have been very few formal studies of the Haitian community in the Bahamas. Indeed, several different news stories in the last week all cite the same study (without mentioning it is 11 years old) from the College of the Bahamas Research Journal in reference to the historic marginalization Haitians have experienced in the Bahamas. As the research shows, Haitians that resettled in the Bahamas from the 1980s into the 1990s were working in the lowest paying jobs, were separated by language, and, as happens to migrant communities everywhere, were blamed for crime and poor health conditions. By the time of the 2000 census in the Bahamas, Haitians made up 7.1 percent of the population, though most lived on New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco or Eleuthera. Overall, Haitians accounted for 56 percent of foreign-born persons in the Bahamas.

Since the earthquake in 2010, migration from Haiti has increased, and has diversified. Nearly 100,000 Haitians moved to Chile, for example, which has more recently begun its own crack down on immigrants. In the Bahamas, the push back against Haitians living there has been severe, set against this history of marginalization. In 2014, for example, a new law required everyone to carry a passport with them – a law everyone knew was targeting Haitian migrants. Even Haitians born in the Bahamas faced deportation – as citizenship is not conferred upon birth, but must be applied for as an adult. As a result, the government:

stepped-up immigration raids in predominantly Haitian shantytowns, where people who lacked passports or work permits were apprehended. When illegal immigrants ran from officers, the agents knocked down doors and took their children, and the photos of toddlers being carried away circulated widely on social media.

Since the policy took effect Nov. 1, children born in the Bahamas have been deported with their parents, and others with Haitian-sounding names have been pulled from school classrooms, human rights observers said. The government acknowledges that even Bahamian citizens with French surnames are frequently arrested by mistake. 

As we have come to see in the United States and elsewhere, enforcement measure even target children as a means to track down families.

The Bahamian government announced that the new policy would go a step further: By next fall, schools will be asked to ensure that every child has a student permit. The annual $125 permit and a passport with a residency stamp will be required even of children born in the Bahamas who do not hold Bahamian citizenship.

The tough new policy echoes similar stances around the region, where new citizenship policies and anti-immigration measures have overwhelmingly affected Haitians, who are fleeing the hemisphere’s poorest country and are the most likely group to migrate illegally in great numbers. The top court in the Dominican Republic ruled in 2013 that the children of illegal immigrants, even if they are born in the country, did not have the right to citizenship.

Dorian

Since the hurricane struck the Bahamas, there have been quite a few articles about the situation of Haitians on the islands. In part, because the communities where they lived, like the Mudd, were among the hardest hit. This is no accident, or course. “Natural” disasters have a way of manifesting the grave inequities that humans create. The poorest die in the largest numbers, are the least likely to access services and find shelter after a storm, and are, for lack of resources, the least likely to be able to move on – though many may be forced to anyway.  

There are thousands of people missing – many are from communities like the Mudd that were washed away. The final death toll will no doubt be much higher than we can imagine at the moment. In the wake of this storm, the struggle to rebuild lives is already generating conflict, as scarce resources highlight existing tensions. At least that is the story being told. The international media is well known for finding the most sensational stories of conflict and tension – ignoring the many, many acts of cooperation and mutual support. We can hope that such stories will emerge in the coming weeks as well.

In the United States, especially Florida, where many people are relocating from the Bahamas, there are also stories of support. Organizations have mobilized to provide shelter and offer other assistance to refugees from the storm. Emergency response and support are important and help build bonds of friendship and support. But we also have to get better at addressing the ongoing structural violence that makes these disasters so much worse.

Postscript

Our president is still Trump. From Salon:

At first it appeared that citizens of the Bahamas, an archipelago nation just 110 miles from Florida, would be free to enter the United States, as has been the case in the past. Then an apparent decision by a private maritime operator to avoid trouble with U.S. Customs and Border Protection over the weekend was compounded by President Trump’s pronouncement that hurricane survivors included “some very bad people” who should be left stranded. Trump’s comments on Monday made clear that a policy change, initially sold as a miscommunication by his administration, was actually another capricious act of cruelty, a needlessly inhumane move to block natural disaster refugees.

“We have to be very careful. Everyone needs totally proper documentation,” Trump said in front of the White House after he returned from a weekend of golf on Monday. “I don’t want to allow people who weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.”

The president then suggested that these very bad people are likely to exploit humanitarian assistance. “The Bahamas has tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas who weren’t supposed to be there,” Trump said before adding that, “believe it or not,” some parts of the Bahamas were not hit hard by Hurricane Dorian.

According to Trump, the 70,000 people displaced by the hurricane should simply move to other parts of the Bahamas. If they want to come here, they must have proper documentation, because “bad people” may take advantage of the situation.

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Tet Mon 20th Anniversary

Wednesday, August 28, 2019 marked the 20 year anniversary of the Jean Marie Vincent Forest on Tet Mon. The forest was the first major initiative of the reforestation program that is now housed at the Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center in Grepen, Haiti. A barren hillside 20 years ago, Tet Mon is now home to over 200,000 trees. From the beginning the vision for Tet Mon was that it be a model project to demonstrate the impact of reforestation. Father Ronel Charelus (Father ChaCha) recalls:

It was a pilot project for the whole country. We had a conviction that if we were able to make this tree planting in Gros Morne successful, there would come to be many other places in the country that would be interested in this project. 

Father ChaCha also explains the connection to Jean Marie Vincent,

We chose to give the project the name of Jean Marie Vincent, a Montfortain priest who was assassinated on 28 August 1994. Why did we choose Jean Marie? We chose him because he had a dream for Haiti. His dream was for all peasants to have life, to live like people. This dream is for the country of Haiti to be covered with trees one day. It was an audacious project. But he had conviction in God and he also believed in people. For Jean Marie, the hope of the country lay in planting trees. He put this awareness in the lives of all of the school children. Jean Marie died, but his dreams are not dead. We can say that he is still here with us. Grepen will always remain a reference for all of the Montfortain priests who want to continue the work that Jean Marie was doing in the country of Haiti.

As with everything that is done at the Grepen Center, the celebration was itself part of an educational event – the Third Annual Agricultural Conference at Grepen.

The celebration of the forest began with a blessing at the tree nursery at the Grepen Center.

People then hiked up to the top of Tet Mon for a ceremony at the Gazebo that sits at the peak.

And, of course, what better way to celebrate the forest than to plant a new tree.

We like to think that the celebration of the forest marks the beginning of the next 20 years of work together with our partners in Gros Morne. Over the previous 20 years the program has grown from this one effort on Tet Mon, to a multifaceted initiative that engages grassroots activists in educational programs throughout the region of Gros Morne. We have been truly blessed to walk with our friends in Gros Morne and with those of you who have joined in support of their dream of a green Haiti. 

We hope you will join with us in celebrating this achievement.

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Haiti Update

Political stalemate continues, migration news and celebrating 20 years in Gros Morne

Photo: Estailove St. Val/EPA-EFE

The political crisis in Haiti continues to unfold. President Moïse remains in office despite a year of demonstrations demanding his resignation. Haiti has had four prime ministers during that time. Jack Guy Lafontant was forced to resign following massive protests last July that launched the country into the current period of instability. His replacement, Jean Henry Céant, was forced out after a no-confidence vote in Parliament following another round of national protests in February of this year. Céant’s replacement as acting prime minister, Jean Michel Lapin, was put forward in April. However, Moïse nominated another official, Fritz William Michel, as prime minister on July 22, because Lapin was unconfirmable. Michel must still present his government and policy platform to Parliament before he can govern. As a result

In reality, Haiti has two prime ministers. There is Michel, who is technically prime minister under the country’s amended 1987 constitution. And there is Jean-Michel Lapin, who officially announced his resignation after Moïse chose Michel on July 22, but remains in charge. Neither one, however, can enter into any legal accords.

The opposition, united in calling for Moïse’s resignation, is otherwise divided over tactics and what comes next should Moïse step down. Those who have mobilized to create a new society confront not just the current government, but those who simply want to replace the current cohort in controlling the existing apparatus of the state. At the official level, the House of Deputies has gathered three times in the last week to vote on an opposition motion to hold impeachment proceedings against Moïse. As of Wednesday this week, the vote has not yet happened – postponed indefinitely over security concerns. While President Moïse remains unpopular in the streets, he has sufficient support in the House of Deputies to most likely avoid the supermajority required for an impeachment vote – if the proceedings ever get that far.

The international community…

Meanwhile, the “international community” seems content to hold out for new elections, currently scheduled for October for parliament and local offices. As always, the hope for international actors is to both control the outcome and provide a veil of legitimacy over institutions under strain. The contradiction embedded in that model continues to escape the would-be doyens of international order, chief among them the United States foreign policy team, the same crew that facilitated Moïse’s tenure in office to begin with. It is the Catch-22 of the moment. Elections are probably necessary and will solve nothing unless deeper structural reforms are instituted; so there is an actual choice when people go to the polls in October. The U.S. government, not big on actual choices (especially when they lead to reform), will direct the process as best it can through funding conditions, and hope for the best. What could go wrong? 

Of course, until there is a government to form the electoral commission and pass the electoral laws needed to proceed, there will be no election. 

The standard of living in Haiti continues to fall as prices go up, investment stalls, and everyone seems to be in a holding pattern to see what happens next. Among the chief concerns is food insecurity.  In announcing a nine million euro emergency aid package, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations noted, 

In recent months, the humanitarian situation in Haiti has deteriorated dramatically and the country is facing serious food shortages. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of people in crisis situations or facing food emergencies doubled to 2.6 million, i.e. 25% of the population. Furthermore, the prevalence of acute malnutrition among children under the age of five remains high, and above World Health Organization (WHO) emergency levels in several locations, including the Nord-Ouest department. (emphasis added)

The nine million euro package will provide food security for 130,000 people.

The International Monetary Fund staff came to an agreement with officials in Haiti this past March for a $229 million loan, at a concessional rate (0% interest, repaid over a three year period). While this represents an infusion of money that might otherwise be welcome, this is the IMF and so, yeah, strings. Among the strings are budget reductions mandated in order to ensure “debt sustainability.” The IMF does not just hand out money in a lump sum, instead issuing “tranches” periodically, and only after staff review conditionalities put in place in the policy realm to ensure “progress” is being made. Currently the lack of an actual government is complicating final negotiations for the aid bill – which will be, at best, a mixed blessing. Remember that it was IMF pressure to end fuel subsidies last year that sent an already angry community out into the streets and brought down Lafontant’s government.

Migration policy

Press conference on Haitian Family Reunification Program. Photo: Miami Herald

The combination of political instability and a collapsing economy has led many Haitians to look elsewhere for places to settle. Over the last year, there has been an increase in people seized at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard and naval patrols from other Caribbean states. There has also been an uptick in people from Haiti at the U.S./Mexico border. For some, arrival is complicated by the fact that they are arriving via Brazil or Chile where many Haitians resettled in the ten years since the earthquake and in some cases started families. The governments of Brazil and Chile have become increasingly anti-immigration amidst their own economic woes. Haitians have been a particular target of new laws to limit resettlement, especially in Chile.

In the United States, the list of efforts to limit migration for Haitians and to make it more difficult for them to stay in the United States continues to grow. 

As a result of the Trump administration’s not renewing Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in 2018, 40,000+ Haitians were facing removal proceedings this summer, starting in July (as well as the question for many about what to do with their U.S. born children). However, the effort to cancel TPS for Haiti (and other countries) has been tied up in court, and federal judges have ruled against the Trump administration in two separate cases involving Haiti. Both cases are still under appeal, but the result is that TPS remains available for Haitians for the time being – through at least December of this year and likely well into next year. It is not, however, secure long-term.

Last year the Trump administration decided to end Haiti’s participation in the federal H-2A and H-2B guest worker program. The program had benefited some Haitian farmers and laborers seeking to come to the United States as temporary, seasonal workers.

In the past few weeks, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service agency announced formal suspension of the Haitian Family Reunification Program, a special program that allowed Haiti family members awaiting visas – and otherwise fully qualified – to be allowed into the United States on a parole basis to wait out final determination here. The program had resettled just over 8,300 Haitians since 2014 – though USCIS had not issued any new invitations to Haitians to participate in the program since Trump took office.

20 years of partnership in Gros Morne

Here at the Quixote Center, we continue to work with our partners at the Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center near Gros Morne, Haiti on reforestation and sustainable agriculture. The forest celebrates its 20th Anniversary on August 28 this year. 

August 28 is the day in 1994 that Jean Marie Vincent, Montfortain priest, and strong advocate for Haiti’s peasantry, was murdered. Father Vincent argued against a charity model of working with the poor. His vision was an empowered community, in control of its own destiny. 

At the Formation Center, this vision still guides the work. The program is run by our partners in Gros Morne, in relation with the Peasant Movement of Gros Morne and other local organizations. In this way, the program is responsive to the immediate needs of the community, as determined by the community itself. 

Over 20 years we have planted 2 million trees. But the real story is in the hundreds of workshops, thousands of family gardens, and the mobilization of 34 parish communities that form the Caritas network in the parish.  

In the context of the current political crisis, the importance of this work becomes ever more clear. Food security and independence is a necessary component of any sustainable future for Haiti. As Geri Lanham recently wrote, the project in Gros Morne has demonstrated its value to the community over the last year. 

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Daily Dispatch 8/7/2019

Gun control and immigration are related

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Daily Dispatch

August 7, 2019


Photograph by Didier Ruef / Visum / Redux

Following the murder of 21 people in a WalMart in El Paso this past weekend, a crime inspired in part by the anti-immigration right wing in this country, Trump saw an opportunity to get something done, and we know he likes to get stuff done. The idea was to finally get universal background checks passed in Congress by “marrying” that to immigration reform measures. In Trump’s mind this is a bargain, right. Democrats want gun control, Republicans want immigration “reform.” Trump’s “let’s make a deal” approach, predictably, offended many people. But let’s be clear: There is a relationship between gun control (or the lack of it) and immigration. Not the link Trump was making, but a link nevertheless.

The connection is simple: U.S. made guns are fueling the drug wars in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and these are the places people are currently fleeing in large numbers. For example, consider this from The Economist:

A study of weapons found at crime scenes suggests that 70 percent of gun crimes in Mexico involve American-bought weapons. The share of homicides in Mexico involving a firearm grew from 16 percent in 1997 to 66 percent in 2017. That suggests around half of Mexico’s 33,000 murder victims last year were killed by a gun manufactured in the United States, which had 14,542 gun homicides in 2017. An American-made gun is more likely to be used in a murder in Mexico than at home.

And this from the New Yorker,

In the summer of 2009, a sixty-three-year-old professional bass fisherman from Florida named Hugh Crumpler III was arrested for selling guns illegally. For years, he’d been buying weapons, legally, at gun shows, and then reselling them to individuals from Latin America who wanted to smuggle the guns back to their home countries. Crumpler was what’s known as a “straw buyer.” “I developed a group of customers,” he said later, in an interview with Univision. “And it dawned on me one day that they were all Hondurans; and that they all seemed to want the same type of guns; and they all seemed to want more and more.” By the time he was caught, Crumpler had resold roughly a thousand guns, including Glocks and AR-15 assault rifles. He eventually agreed to coöperate with American authorities in exchange for a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, some of the guns Crumpler sold were used in crimes in Honduras, Puerto Rico, and Colombia, including in at least one homicide.

The Center for American Progress released a detailed study on the connection between lax gun laws in the United States and crime outside our borders:

From 2014 to 2016, across 15 countries in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, 50,133 guns that originated in the United States were recovered as part of criminal investigations. Put another way, during this span, U.S.-sourced guns were used to commit crimes in nearby countries approximately once every 31 minutes.

Certainly, many of these U.S.-sourced crime guns were legally exported and were not diverted for criminal use until they crossed the border. The United States is a major manufacturer and a leading exporter of firearms, legally exporting an average of 298,000 guns each year. However, many of the same gaps and weaknesses in U.S. gun laws that contribute to illegal gun trafficking domestically likewise contribute to the illegal trafficking of guns from the United States to nearby nations.

The Center for American Progress identified several policy recommendations as part of this study, they include:

  • Instituting universal background checks for gun purchases.
  • Making gun trafficking and straw purchasing federal crimes.
  • Requiring the reporting of multiple sales of long guns.
  • Increasing access to international gun trafficking data.
  • Rejecting efforts that weaken firearm export oversight.

In Haiti, the connection is even clearer. Almost 100 percent of guns collected at crime scenes are from the United States. This despite the fact that a small arms embargo was put in place nearly thirty years ago, following the first coup d’etat that deposed Aristide in 1991. It is probably the most meaningless embargo ever created – what is required is a special export license, and with the right connections, one can be had. Even without a license, weapons get shipped.

For example, earlier this year a gun shop owner based in Orlando was arrested for illegally shipping arms to Haiti. From the Miami Herald,

The owner of Global Dynasty Corps., LLC in Orlando, Junior Joseph is currently on trial in Fort Lauderdale, where government prosecutors say he and Jimy, whose own trial is scheduled to start next week, concealed 159 semi-automatic single-and double-barreled 12-gauge shotguns, five AR15-type rifles and two 9mm Glock 17 pistols inside the truck and illegally exported them to Haiti. Also hidden in the vehicle were tactical vests, police boots and 30,000 bullets including shells for the shotguns.

None of this is new. Following the second coup d’etat against Aristide in 2004, thousands of weapons were sent to Haiti – a transfer approved by then Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton. At least 2,000 people died in fighting, mostly concentrated in neighborhoods in Port au Prince in 2004 and 2005. The weapons were from the United States. Maxine Waters called for an investigation into the arms transfers – or at least some answers from Bolton. She didn’t get either. Bolton is not in prison, of course, he is back in the White House trying to start a war with Iran.

More recently, violence is again on the rise in Haiti. The context for the recent arrests for gun running becoming clearer. The most gruesome example, a massacre that occurred in La Saline in November of 2018. As reported in the Miami Herald,

During that period, Nov. 13-17, men, women and even children as young as 4 were shot to death, their bodies then fed to dogs and pigs. Women were raped and set on fire, as was a police officer, Juwon Durosier. The culprits: bandits tied to gang conflicts over control of a sprawling outdoor market where protection rackets are the norm, but also guns-for-hire by powerful politicians and well-heeled businessmen seeking to control votes in the run-up to upcoming legislative and mayoral elections.

So yes, there is a connection between gun control and immigration. The United States’ unique obsession with guns, a country with more guns than people, ripples out to impact the lives of others in neighboring countries where these guns get trafficked. Of course, the gangs that are part of this network of trafficking are themselves from the United States, a point too often lost in the immigration discussion as well. MS-13 started in Los Angeles, not San Salvador. And, the government officials in Haiti, Guatemala and Honduras fueling violence, are there by the grace of U.S. policymakers as well (and occasionally drug dealers). Simply put, the U.S. is the leading exporter of the tools of violence in the world. 

And that has consequences.

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What political crisis means in Gros Morne, Haiti

Entrance to Jean Marie Vincent Forest, Gros Morne

Over the last year there has been a recurring cycle of protest sparked by ongoing anger at the current government. The underlying causes are complex, touching on a number of themes, but central to the frustration is the increasing cost of living that is driving people into more and more desperate conditions. Alongside of the daily struggle, corruption has emerged as a specific target of frustration as it manifests the insular world of Haiti’s wealthy class which continues to dominate political institutions. The PetroCaribe scandal, where dozens of politicians and well connected friends were found to have syphoned off billions in subsidized oil revenue for projects never completed, or, in some cases, never started has become a focal point for demonstrations demanding the resignation of president Jovenal Moise.  

Below, Geri Lanham, who works with our partners at the Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center in Gros Morne, discusses what the crisis has meant in Gros Morne and some of the hopeful ways the community has responded.

Gros Morne is known for being a calm place where people go about their daily business of trying to support their families without much fuss. This daily endeavor is not without hardship, and is made more difficult by the lack of transportation and electric infrastructure, but it is generally carried out in a manner of purposeful action where each person strives to manage his or her affairs to the extent that he or she is able. This all happens within the local network of the eight communal sections of Gros Morne, which are connected via local markets and businesses which try to keep up a trade to more or less enable those people who are engaged within the network to strive to make ends meet. Hunger still very much exists in the zone, but thanks to local efforts to support and expand agrarian activities and family connections abroad, there are genuine attempts to lessen this daily struggle to provide basic needs. Life is difficult here, without a doubt, but the people of Gros Morne are incredibly resilient in the face of hardship. 

The recent recurring episodes of insecurity in the country have negatively impacted Gros Morne and the capacity and network that people here have worked hard to create in order to support their families. When the roads to the south toward Port-au-Prince are barricaded with roadblocks due to political frustrations, this means that the merchants of Gros Morne cannot resupply. Prices rise when everyday goods like eggs and flour become scarce, and when the roads open again, these prices do not fall back to the level where they were originally. The real difficulty is when local salaries for professionals who work in education and healthcare do not rise in response to these increased prices, and so the purchasing power of this professional class decreases. The merchants then lose some of their regular clients who can no longer afford to buy at the same level at which they had before the scarcity, and their network shrinks. 

When gas is not resupplied regularly to the four gas stations in town, transportation costs rise. This impacts virtually everyone in town who use the moto taxis to get where they need to go on a daily basis. Profit margins fall for small merchants who need to transport items farther out into the countryside, as well as for moto drivers, who realize that they cannot raise their taxi prices more than what people are willing to reasonably pay even when gas purchased on the black market is more expensive. People who were able to “make it” previously now find themselves in a difficult situation of needing some other activity or connection to fill the gap caused by the price increases which are the result of these roadblocks. 

With the transportation disrupted, people in Gros Morne felt the impact of these national strikes. This led to the desire from some in town to join in the protest activities to show their own frustrations and commiserate with their country people who are all very frustrated by the current situation of the unsustainable high cost of living. This disgruntled feeling manifested itself in a day of general protests in Gros Morne, which involved a group of people marching down the main roads, erecting rock barricades along the national highway that passes through town, and generally voicing their discontent with the status quo. Then the next day, all was back to business as usual, as people went about the daily struggle to provide for their families, which is only becoming more difficult. 

One positive ongoing change to emerge from these national protests and the disruptions that they have caused is a local desire for people to become more self sufficient in their food sources. The local agronomy team in Gros Morne, along with various community organizations, is striving to teach people techniques for increasing their garden yields and introducing them to new crops in order to fortify the local capacity to supply the nutritional needs of the population. Local women’s groups are supporting one another in efforts to create small front yard gardens of vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and okra, while community organizations are creating communal gardens to plant crops like corn, okra and sweet potatoes. Local farmers are receiving formation to plant a new variety of yams and are using land preparation techniques like double dug gardens to respond to the lack of rainfall in the zone. As families begin to identify the assets such as land, which they already have, they are then able to use what they learn from agronomy formations to put the land into use in an attempt to respond to the hardships facing their families. Coordination between leaders out in the communal sections means that different zones are planting different crops, so that they do not drive prices down when they bring their harvest to the central market in the town of Gros Morne. These small efforts are beginning to show results as everyone strives to go about living by finding creative ways to deal with the new normal. 

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Protests in Haiti

Protests against Haitian President Jovenel Moïse re-emerged last week as part of a year long campaign demanding his resignation. The movement against Moïse gained international attention last July when protests sparked by an announced end to fuel subsidies ultimately led to the resignation of Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant*. A new government formed in October last year under Moïse-appointed Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant lasted less than six months when he was removed in a vote of no-confidence a month after February protests. Moise, however, remains in office and has refused to address the concerns of demonstrators directly. This week he made only brief remarks, denying involvement in corruption and demanding that people stay calm – making clear his intent to use the police to maintain order.

In the midst of the latest round of demonstrations, the United States State Department did change its travel advisory for Haiti from Level Four (do not travel) to Level Three (reconsider travel). This will offer some relief for businesses dependent on travel and tourism and make it easier for aid groups to provide services.

The current protests were launched with a transportation strike last Monday. Jacqueline Charles reported on the death of a journalist during the protests in the Miami Herald:

Late Monday night, a well-known radio journalist, Rospide Pétion, was shot to death in Port-au-Prince, authorities confirmed. Pétion worked for Radio Sans Fin…Three of the individuals who allegedly set fire to vehicles belonging to Radio Télé Ginen were arrested by Haiti National Police, who also opened an internal probe into the death of the motorcyclist after the head of the presidential guards, Dimitri Hérard, was accused of firing the fatal shot at the intersection of Delmas and airport roads.

After a pause on Wednesday, protests resumed on Thursday, Moïse’s tepid address Wednesday evening clearly having no impact. From yesterday’s New York Times:

Thousands of protesters demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse clashed with police Thursday as some tried to storm barriers outside the National Palace while others sought shelter as heavy gunfire echoed in nearby streets.

The demonstration came a day after Moïse broke his silence over the country’s recent unrest and rejected demands that he step down over allegations of officials misusing funds from subsidized oil shipments from Venezuela under the Petrocaribe program. He denied any wrongdoing.

The immediate cause of the latest demonstrations was a report issued on June 4 that further documented corruption, directly implicating Moise. From the Miami Herald:

Months prior to Haiti’s deeply flawed October 2016* presidential vote, the man who would become president, Jovenel Moïse, received millions of dollars for questionable road rehabilitation projects that a panel of Haitian government auditors say were part of embezzlement schemes that defrauded the country’s poor out of billions of dollars in Venezuelan aid meant to improve their lives.

At least $1 million was for a stretch of rural road in northern Haiti that government auditors said was paid for twice, after the public works ministry issued the same contract to two firms in late 2014. The firms shared the same tax identification number, government patent, technical staff and resume of projects in their portfolio, auditors said.

The only difference between the firms, auditors noted, was their heads. Agritans listed Moïse, a relatively unknown businessman and eventual handpicked successor to then-Haiti president Michel Martelly, as its head, while Betexs, the second firm, listed someone else. Agritrans received a $419,240 or 66 percent advance on the project — two months before the signing of its contract with the ministry of public works.

“For the court, giving a second contract for the same project… is nothing less than a scheme to embezzle funds,” auditors said about the project involving the Borgne-Petit Bourg-de-Borgne road.

While the media focuses a great deal on opposition to corruption as the primary motivator of the demonstrations, the issues go much deeper. As in any movement, there are factions with different goals and coming from various ideological perspectives in the protests against Moise. However, as the popular mobilizations continue, it is clear that corruption is not ultimately the concern. Rather, it is the grave inequality in Haiti, in which a narrow spectrum of the elite, often defended, or at least shielded by the international “community,” control the economic and political institutions of the country. Corruption is thus an indicator of a deeper social crisis. Increasingly the demands from the movement are directed at confronting these systemic issues.

A recent profile of youth activists, who have been critical in the evolution of the movement helps provide some context:

“But now, the PetroCaribe challenge is not something against a president. It’s not against a dictatorship,” she said. “It’s people asking for accountability, and this is a huge problem in Haiti. But it’s been a long time since we have had so many people coming together to ask for it. I think this is really new.”

The Petrochallenge movement is comprised of two groups: Nou Pap Dòmi, or “We keep our eyes open,” which is focused on government accountability in the short term; and Ayiti Nou Vle A, or “The Haiti we want,” a group that encourages ordinary citizens to get involved in shaping Haiti’s longterm future by encouraging civic engagement, online and offline. Both groups started in the wake of Mirambeau’s tweet.

For inspiration, the Petrochallengers have looked to other youth-led movements around the world that used social media, such as the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and Y’en a Marre, a Senegalese movement created by young rappers and journalists to protest ineffective government and register youth to vote. They’ve also looked to France’s Yellow Vest protests[…]

Social media is a key component of the Petrochallenge movement, said Gaëlle Bien-Aimé, 31, a Haitian women’s rights activist, comedian and Petrochallenger. For example, people have tweeted photos of vacant lots and skeletal structures where some of the nearly $2 billion in PetroCaribe funds were supposed to have been spent.

For an excellent, detailed analysis of the roots of the protest, I highly recommend the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti’s (IJDH) recent report, “Haiti at a Crossroads: An Analysis of the Drivers Behind Haiti’s Political Crisis.” In this report, IJDH breaks down not just recent developments, but the historical/structural drivers of the crisis that are important for understanding the current moment. From the executive summary:

This report seeks to put the current crisis in Haiti into context by explaining the short-, medium- and long-term factors driving the unrest, including detailing some of the gravest human rights violations in Haiti during President Moïse’s tenure. In the short term, the PetroCaribe scandal galvanized civil society and was the spark that brought Haitians into the streets. In the medium term, the movement is a response to the Moïse administration’s broader abuses of authority and de-prioritization of the rights and needs of the impoverished majority. President Moïse assumed office without a true popular mandate, having been elected in a low-turnout process that left him beholden to foreign and elite interests and a patronage network over the impoverished majority. In office, his administration has engaged in human rights abuses, flouted the rule of law, and mismanaged the economy in ways that disproportionately impact the poor. In the long term, this administration’s failures are enabled by years of flawed elections, a dysfunctional justice system and domestic and foreign economic policies that have impoverished the majority of Haitians.

The drivers behind the movement reflect repeated failures by Haitian leaders to serve their people, but they are also the result of decisions made by actors outside of Haiti. While the international community has invested billions in building up rule of law institutions in Haiti, powerful governments and international institutions have also exerted influence on Haiti to forge ahead with problematic, exclusionary elections and to accept a system of justice that allows foreign and elite actors to operate above the law. The faults of the decades-long prioritization of short-term stability over rule of law are now cracking. If the international community is to support a sustainable way forward for Haiti, it must finally take its lead from Haitians and support systemic reform that will be long and difficult. Systemic reform is the only way for Haiti to emerge out of this crisis into a place of true stability.

As the protests continue into this week, pressure remains on Moise to step down. What a transition would look like were he to do so, is not clear. Elections for Haiti’s Parliament are scheduled for October and the current crisis will certainly weigh heavily on them. But absent major reform they are unlikely to settle anything or offer resolution to the underlying structural inequities that are driving the current mobilizations. The people of Haiti have always been on the leading edge of democratic mobilization in this hemisphere, from the revolution in 1804 to today’s confrontation with the brutal political structures and consequence of neo-liberalizaton. Too often, victory has been stolen through retrenchment of the elite and an international community that wants a compliance. It is hard to see how things will turn out this time. But the determination to create a new political and economic order is strong, and the protests will almost certainly continue until something significant changes. 


*Corrections:

An earlier draft mistakenly identified Laurent Lamothe as the prime minister who resigned in July of 2018. Lamothe is a former prime minister (2012-2014) who served under President Martelly – he has been implicated in the PetroCaribe scandal as well.

The date for elections in the Miami Herald article quoted above is incorrect. The original election was October 25, 2015 – the results were widely protested, and ultimately annulled. The new “deeply flawed” elections were held on November 20, 2016. 

h/t to Reparations for Haiti (@ReparationsH ) for the call out and corrections.

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Gros Morne 20th Anniversary Stories: Roy Lanham

As part of our celebration of the 20th anniversary of the launch of the reforestation project in Gros Morne, Haiti in partnership with the Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center, we are sharing reflections from people who have been a part of the program over the years. This week we are sharing a reflection from Roy Lanham, campus minister & advisor for the Haiti Connection at Eastern Illinois University.

Gazebo at the peak of Tet Mon

As part of our mission experience in Haiti, Amy Jobin invited us to come to Gwo Mòn to experience the beauty of the place and its people. At the time we were open to exploring other options and missions. And so we came. As part of our exposure to the area, Amy and Sè Pat took us to what would become the Jean Marie Vincent [JMV] forest. It was just like every other hill top  in the area: I do not remember a single tree. (I was also thinking, Amy this is not as beautiful as Barassa.) Amy and Se Pat shared with us the vision of what was going to happen there. There were men already at work on the hill: cutting out scrub brush and preparing the land to receive the first set of trees, building the “ditches” with this cool “A” frame tool that allowed the ditches to all fill up at the same time to keep the water from just rushing down the hill.

I was impressed with the desire to “get it right.” I was hopeful because it wasn’t just a Sè Pat project, but it seemed our Haitian brothers and sisters believed in the value this forest would have. I have to admit it was hard to see success. They took us to Grepin Center and the tree nursery where the trees were being prepared. I remember them not just speaking about the new JMV planting, but their efforts to get farmers to plant trees throughout the zones. In fact, they showed us the room where formations took place and pictures of people picking up their trees. It was a vision of what could be.

As we continued to come over the years we watched the trees grow and the along with it the vision. The first set of trees were planted in rows and it had an “English garden” feel because it all seemed so tidy. I remember on a number of those early trips when Sr. Pat (Amy no longer lived in Gwo Mòn) asked us to cut the vines that encircled seemingly every tree they had planted. We had a big team and she said, as only she can: “Since we are here visiting imagine if every one of you would cut 100 of the vines off of the trees. This would keep 1800 trees from being choked.” We did  it. And we did this on more than one occasion over those early years.

We never gave money to this project, but it was always an important part of our experience of Gwo Mòn to visit JMV. I know my memory has faded over time, but I am almost certain Sr. Pat took us to the forest the first 10 years. I remember how energized she was and still is about trees.

I believe like all things, the value of the forest has deepened over the years, but with a twist. At first, I sensed it was like: hey someone wants to plant trees and give some jobs, great. It felt like any other “project” in Haiti. But it did not take but a couple of years and there was this energy. . .groups began to be formed (AJGR, Association of the Youth of Gros Morne, for example) that wanted to imitate JMV and what was happening there. When the sisters moved to their new digs, Sr. Pat transformed that piece of land, I believe because she saw what was happening at JMV and knew it could happen where they lived in town. I remember another tree nursery starting, I remember other smaller efforts, throughout the zone where the Monfortains did ministry: ti forèt yo. Some with success and some not, but all of them efforts born out of JMV.

And so the number one value would be HOPE. They have this beautiful and constant reminder of what is possible. I do not believe we will have “green hats” on every mountain any time soon, but you realize it is possible to show people how to restore the land. How to believe that the last chapter is not written, and it is possible to renew  the land. It is a living laboratory for sure.

The other piece which is not lost on the people of Gwo Mòn, is the forest has become a place of prayer. Isn’t it amazing that folks come to pray there. The link between the God of Redemption and the God of Creation is so beautiful and probably best exemplified in the way of the cross/stations on Good Friday.

Finally, the Grepin Center keeps expanding their efforts to create a vision for the people. I think the agronomists, the benefactors, the priests, the people  only have to look up the hill and see what is possible whenever they get overwhelmed by the myriad of problems that beset Haiti. Right here, right now this works.

I have to admit it was not until the second planting that we began to see the real value of the trees. For the first time we began to hear birds and then see them. The Gazebo became a place where we would reflect a bit on what was going on around us (we don’t do this anymore) and we would wonder about what if every mountain in Haiti began to have a “green hat?” It had this effect on us, and we were just visiting…The trees of the first planting are twenty years old and there is a sense of look at what it possible. Having said this, it is when you get into the second planting that you feel you are in a forest. I guess that is the effect pines have on you.

This change might seem strange: First there was a real concern to keep the canals cleared, so they could fill properly and aid with keeping the water from causing erosion and to keep some on the mountain. I think it is amazing that twenty years later they are allowed to be filled with leaves and whatever and they are becoming “Just memories,” because the trees themselves are doing what the canals did in the beginning. To me, that is one of the coolest changes.

Sr Pat in those early years and her desire to show off the forest, even when it was just a bunch of saplings was amazing. It didn’t seem like much was happening, but her enthusiasm was contagious.

The men we would meet on the mountain and listening to them talk about their work had a pride in what they were doing for JMV and for the community. Lives transformed.

The joy we have had over the years in bringing our mission teams to the top. Many times, it is seen as a thing “Roy wants us to do.” However, always, always afterwards the students talk about the beauty and the power of the woods. Isn’t that cool. They write about it in their journals. It has an impact on them to see what is possible. It is at moments like that I am reminded how we all are connected, and how all our lives are interconnected on this planet of ours.

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Gros Morne Stories: Amy Jobin, Quest volunteer 1999

As part of our celebration of the 20th anniversary of the launch of the reforestation project in Gros Morne, Haiti in partnership with the Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center, we are sharing reflections from people who have been a part of the program over the years. This week we are sharing a reflection from Amy Jobin who volunteered with the Religious of Jesus and Mary’s (RJM) Quest program in 1999 as the reforestation project was getting started.

I remember going to Tèt Mòn for the first time shortly after I arrived in Gros-Morne back in August of 1999 for a year of volunteering with Quest. I remember Sr. Pat first telling me about Tèt Mòn and how the RJMs and the Montfortain priests had made the [transfer] of the land possible [from the Diocese of Gonaives] so that it could be reforested.  I don’t recall exactly how many acres or hectares Sr. Pat told me had been purchased but it sounded like a lot – and that a lot of trees would need to be planted to cover this much ground.

I also remember the first time we went out to see Tèt Mòn, the name we called this mountain that was going to be reforested. It wasn’t much to look at, like many of the mountains in Haiti; it was brown, dry, eroded looking….. but whole sections had tiny new trees planted on it that ranged from about six inches to a foot or foot and a half tall.  When places like this become too deforested, rain stops falling, creating conditions that make places like Gros-Morne even more prone to drought which can lead to a host of other challenges in places where water and especially potable water for drinking is already on short supply. To combat the water problem, big blue plastic barrels had been placed all over Tèt Mòn that were periodically filled with water from [the river] and when we would go out to see the forest in the evenings, we would check the small trees, giving a sip of water to as many trees as we could before it became too dark. At the time, this struck me as a “nice project” that needed to be done so that there might be some tree cover on the mountain again and maybe more rain in that area. I had no idea when Sr. Pat introduced me to Tèt Mòn in the early beginnings of this project what it would one day come to be.

Fast forward to May, 2015. It has been over a decade since I have visited Haiti and when I arrive in Gros Morne, Sr. Pat says to me, “I want you to come and see Tèt Mòn while you’re here.” I had a much greater appreciation for trees and reforestation by this time in my life and I remember being excited to go and see this forest that had been in the re-making for over 15 years now. When I got there, I couldn’t believe what I saw. The once nearly barren land with small trees on it now had to be entered through a special path that was made so that anyone visiting could walk through the forest! I remember our first few steps inside, it had changed so much that we were no longer standing on a piece of land that was being reforested, but we were inside the coverage of an actual forest. The trees were anywhere from five to fifteen feet tall at least. And wonder of wonders, there were birds, insects – in particular, caterpillars weaving pupas and several different colored moths or butterflies, one a beautiful color of delicate yellow, everywhere we turned. Not only had the trees grown, but this now forest had an eco-system all its own, supporting a host of plants and animals not to mention the humans who were benefiting from its carbon-absorbing properties, not to mention its beauty.

I am still struck each time I remember and re-imagine my experience of the forest with Sr. Pat 15 years after it had been planted, struck by about how much it changed and transformed and came back to life, how even the animals and insects knew it was time to come back.  Is it a miracle, well, yes, in its own way, but it is also a testimony to a well planned reforestation project and care for our earth, who needs us to be awake to her condition so much at this time in our history.

During one of my early visits to Tèt Mòn, I was with Sr. Pat and one of our good Haitian friends, Jean (pronounced John) Desnor. Jean was instrumental in helping plan and coordinate this project, knowing which trees needed to be planted, how much water they would need, the growing cycles of certain trees, and many more agricultural complexities that needed to be carefully thought out as this project began. I hardly remember taking the photo, but I still have one of Jean and Sr. Pat up on Tèt Mòn back in the very early days and Jean has his hand on his heart and Sr. Pat is looking reflectively at the land. I didn’t understand what this project meant to either of them when it began, but the photo says it all; they knew it was possible for a forest to be re-grown here someday. Sr. Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN, who was martyred in the Amazon in 2005 for her work empowering indigenous peoples to fight for land rights and for protecting the land itself, said “The death of forest is the end of our life.” She knew as she watched acre upon of acre of clear cutting in the Amazon that “the trees are the lungs of our planet” and that if we keep cutting them down without replacing and reforesting, we would be (and still are) on a fast path to self-destruction. Let us remember her words and let us continue to plant, support and celebrate forests like Tèt Mòn that remind us of the regenerative powers of our Mother Earth and that it’s our right and our responsibility to assist her. Thank you, Sr. Pat, Sr. Jackie, Jean, Pè Chacha, the Grepen farmers and agricultural workers and so many others who helped bring Tèt Mòn to life again, helping Mother Earth sustain, one tree at a time.

 – Amy Jobin, campus minister, Quest volunteer 1999

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20th Anniversary Stories from Gros Morne: Father Chacha

(Above Drone Video of Forest on Tet Mon and Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center [Grepen Center])

This year we mark the 20th Anniversary of our work with Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center in Gros Morne, Haiti. Today we are launching a new blog series to celebrate the 20 year anniversary, which will focus on reflections from people who have worked on the program through the years.

One of the original visionaries of the program was Fr. Ronel Charelus (Father Chacha). Below he discusses the beginnings of the project back in 1999.

Fr. Ronel Charelus (Pere Chacha), former pastor of Notre Dame du La Chandeleur parish

Wi se avèk kè kontan  nou te pran inisyativ pou forè sa a nan Nan Gwomon.  Map sonje Sè Lise Brosseau, Barthelemy Garcon, Nesly Jean Jacques, Jean Desnor, père Cine syriaque, Sè pat Dillon, Sè Rose Gallagher avèk  lot moun anko ki te konprann valè plante pye bwa nan Gwomon.

It was with happy hearts that we took the initiative to start this forest in Gros Morne. I remember Sr. Lise Rosseau, Fr. Barthelemy Garcon, Fr. Nesly Jean Jacques, Jean Desinor, Fr. Cine Syriaque, Sr. Pat Dillon, & Sr. Rose Gallagher,  along with other people who understood the value of planting trees in Gros Morne.

Se te yon pwoje pilot pout tout peyi a.  Nou te gen konviksyon si nou rive plante bwa Gwomon si nou reyisi,  ap gen anpil lot kote nan peyi a kap enterese ak pwoje sa a. Se esperyans sa nou te fè apre kèk lane nou komanse ak pwojè a.

It was a pilot project for the whole country. We had a conviction that if we were able to make this tree planting in Gros Morne successful, there would come to be many other places in the country that would be interested in this project. This is the experience that we had and after some years we started with the project.

Pwojè a te demare  nan lane 1999 ak yon relijiez nan kongregasyon Sè Lise Brosseau ki rele Carol ??? mwen bliye siyati l.  Li tap travay nan Quixote center nan Washington ??. Sete Sè Rose Gallagher yon bon zanmi m ki te metem an relasyon avek li. Li te rive fe plizyè vwayaj  nan Gwomon. Se limenm ki te ede nou jwenn lajan pou nou komanse pwojè sa a.

The project kicked off in in 1999, with a religious sister in the congregation of Sr. Lise Brosseau [Holy Names of Jesus and Mary] who was named Carol [Reis]. She was working with the Quixote Center in Washington. It was Sr. Rose Gallagher, a good friend of mine, who put me in contact with her [Carol]. She came to make many trips to Gros Morne. She was the one who helped us find money so that we could start this project.

Nou te chwazi bay pwojè  a pote non Jean Marie Vincent , yon prêt monfoten  yo te asasine le 28 Aout 1994. Pou kisa nou te chwazi Jean Marie ? Nou te chwazi l paske li te gen yon rèv pou Ayiti. Rèv li se te pou tout peyizan yo gen  lavi, pou yo viv tankou moun. Rèv sa se pou peyi Dayiti kouvri ak Pye bwa yon Jou. Se te yon pwojè odasye. men li te gen Konviksyon nan Bondye, li te kwè nan moun tou… Pou  Jean Marie Espwa peyi a se plante pye bwa. Se mete konsyans sa nan lavi tout timoun lekol yo. Jean Marie mouri, men rèv li yo pa mouri. Nou kapab di li toujou la avèk nou. Grepen ap toujou rete yon referans pou tout Pè monfoten yo ki vle kontinye travay Jean Marie tap fè nan Peyi Dayiti.

We chose to give the project the name of Jean Marie Vincent, a Montfortain priest who was assassinated on 28 August 1994. Why did we choose Jean Marie? We chose him because he had a dream for Haiti. His dream was for all peasants to have life, to live like people. This dream is for the country of Haiti to be covered with trees one day. It was an audacious project. But he had conviction in God and he also believed in people. For Jean Marie, the hope of the country lay in planting trees. He put this awareness in the lives of all of the school children. Jean Marie died, but his dreams are not dead. We can say that he is still here with us. Grepen will always remain a reference for all of the Montfortain priests who want to continue the work that Jean Marie was doing in the country of Haiti.

Yon lot pwojè nou te gen pou Gomon se te pwoteje tet mon yo sitou Rivye Mansèl. Jodi a map mande si pwojè sa a toujou la ? Apre 20 tan jodi a nou kapab evalye ak moun yo, avèk jean Desnor pou nou we si rèv sa a Jean Marie te genyen an ap kontinye toujou.

Another project that we had for Gros Morne is to protect the mountain tops, especially in Rivyè Mansel. Today I ask if that project is still there. After 20 years, today we can evaluate with the people, with Jean Desinor, to see if this dream that Jean Marie had still continues.

 

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Daily Dispatch 3/13/2019


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Daily Dispatch

March 13, 2019


USCIS Set to Close Field Offices Overseas

In a new effort to make legal immigration even more difficult, the Trump administration is looking to close U.S. immigration offices overseas and transfers some of those responsibilities to the State Department.  

The Trump administration is seeking to close nearly two dozen U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field offices around the world in a move it estimates would save millions per year. But critics argue the closures will further slow refugee processing, family reunification petitions and military citizenship applications.

USCIS spokeswoman Jessica Collins announced on Tuesday the agency is in “preliminary discussions” to delegate its international responsibilities to the State Department, or to its own personnel in the U.S. In some cases, the workload would be absorbed by U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

Such measures may save money (the stated goal) but will ensure that backlogs for processing of visas, family reunification efforts and other normal immigration functions will be further delayed – likely increasing pressure for irregular border crossing.

Update on Arrests in Haiti

 

A couple of weeks ago we put out a dispatch focused on the arrest of five heavily armed, U.S. Americans in Haiti. Yesterday, Jake Johnston from the Center for Economic and Policy Research published a detailed investigative report about the arrests and the controversy that has ensued in Haiti over their release.

On February 17, Haitian police arrested seven Blackwater-like security contractors a few blocks from the country’s Central Bank. They claimed to be on a government mission, and had a cache of weapons. Four days later the US “rescued” them. What happened? Read the whole story here.

 

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