Two years ago, the only man running in Haiti’s fraudulent presidential election run-offs on January 24, 2016, Jovenel Moïse, dispossessed as many as 800 peasants and destroyed houses and crops. The land grabbed by the company Moïse founded now hosts a private banana plantation.
Today we live in a crucial moment in which peasants are confronting challenges as they grapple with global warming, with the power of multinational companies over what they eat and how they live, and with an agricultural model that can’t provide them livelihood. […]
The January 2010 earthquake provided a perfect opportunity for many to come and do business in Haiti. Even prior to the earthquake, Bill Clinton led the discussion on developing Haiti through corporate investment. President Martelly turned that approach into a credo: “Haiti is open for business.” We understand the pretext for this so-called development. The concept of extraction isn’t very well known in Haiti, but the country has had a long history of pillaging by colonial and imperial powers.
Some things never change. In Haiti, no matter the century or decade in question, one can be certain that: the state and elite are trouncing the rights and needs of the majority, the population is protesting to demand land and justice, and the international community is taking the wrong side. […]
Overall, of the $6.43 billion disbursed by bilateral and multilateral donors to Haiti from 2010 to 2012, just nine percent went through the Haitian government while the rest went to foreign contractors. “It’s a really profitable business for U.S. contractors to make money off of this disaster,” CEPR’s Dan Beeton told IPS. “This was an opportunity to turn a disaster into something that could benefit Haitians as they rebuild their own country, but they were just bypassed.”
As the government works on preparing “an attractive law that will entice investors”, Haitian popular organizations are mobilizing and forming networks to resist mining in their country. Already one-third of the north of Haiti is under research, exploration, or exploitation license to foreign companies.
In a market driven by the profit-making of multinationals, the garment sector isn’t about creating jobs for Haitians so much as displacing jobs from one poor country to another, poorer one, making Haiti’s poverty its “comparative advantage. “The state hasn’t done anything to force the minimum-wage law to be respected,” says Pierre. “Workers do revolt, but timidly, and factories put a lot of pressure on workers to not join the union.”
Outraged that they have not been consulted, this week Haitian senators called for a moratorium on all activities connected with recently granted gold and copper mining permits. In a resolution approved by 15 of 16 senators present, the lawmakers also demanded the establishment of a commission to review all of the current mining contracts and “a national debate on the country’s mineral resources.”
Justin Podur, Associate Professor in environmental studies at Toronto’s York University, in his new book, Haiti’s New Dictatorship: The Coup, the Earthquake and the UN Occupation, offers a timely and concise political history of contemporary Haiti and a case study in “how a multilateral violation of sovereignty is organized and carried out.” He draws on a wide range of academic, journalistic, and human rights reports, as well as U.S. embassy cables released by Wikileaks, to document how Haiti became a laboratory “experiment in a new kind of imperialism.”
Wages and working conditions are a major issue for the 29,000 Haitians who work long hours in garment factories for about $5 a day. Anger over the situation erupted in August 2009, when thousands of SONAPI workers shut down their machines and marched into the center of Port-au-Prince to demand an increase in the minimum wage. Batay Ouvriye organizers say MINUSTAH began stepping up its presence in the park after the protests.