Obama's empty promises to Haiti - Change did not come
Obama's foreign policy has continued the failed George W. Bush policies. War rages on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Torture is no big deal, none of the torturers are being punished for violating the US Constitution, the Guantanamo closing was put off, some detainees only reshuffled and the same old Wall Street tycoons who took down the country now head Obama's economic policies and programs. Unemployment is at an all time high, more so amongst Blacks of course, and the Wall Street bailout mostly didn't help Main Street. It's still the rule of big business as usual. But, if Americans are suffering increase in credit card debt and job loss from the global economic crisis, imagine what the high cost of living, fuel prices, fewer remittances from abroad and the same old imperialist policies are doing to Haiti and the world’s poor.
During his campaign Barack Obama promised change from the 8-years of failed Bush policies, but he’s surrendered to the corporate interests and the Haitian Oligarchy in Haiti, leaving the majority poor out in the cold, as usual. Banned not only from elections that the US is financing at the tune of $18 million dollars but subject to unfair wages and a gross UN occupation that preserves corporate interests.
Listen to Obama's empty "Wi Nou Kapab - Yes We Can" promise for change to Haitian-Americans
Deportations did not stop, Haitians were not granted TPS, political prisoners were not released, US HOPE Act enabled the Haitian Oligarchy to reject fairer minimum wages. UN/MINUSTAH soldiers, known to the Haitian poor as the "vampires of leisure" in Haiti, continued their sexual assaults and killing of Haitians with impunity even with Bill Clinton being named as UN Special Envoy to Haiti and Paul Farmer as his Deputy Envoy. NGO's continue to undermine Haitian government. There's no oversight or accountability on USAID. False foreign aid, false charity, harmful food aid and unfair trade, continues. Foreign pillaging of Haiti resources and riches with the exclusion of the Haitian people and no sharing of profits with poor Haitians to raise the majority's standard of living, continues under this Obama Administration.
Last year around this time HLLN was writing about how:
Food Donations Rot in New York while Haitian Storm Victims Starve and Die
Reporting that Deportations to storm-crippled Haiti, which George W. Bush had stopped for three months from Sept to Dec. 9, 2008, had just resumed.
We were urging a stop to all deportations to Haiti and that Haitians be granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS), as well as helping to mobilize "critical" support for the presidential vote, pushing for Obama to win the White House so a less tyrannical US presence could be established in Haiti.
HLLN crafted a Haiti position paper and submitted it to the Obama Team even before he was elected. (What Haitian-Americans Ask of the New U.S. President)
We wrote: "Haitian-Americans ask the next US president and Congress to....end the UN occupation; stop unequal immigration treatment of Haitian refugees and asylum seekers; cancel, without condition, Haiti's debt to international financial institutions; void unfair trade, start reciprocal trade, restrict free trade so not to dump food and other imports into Haiti that eviscerate Haiti's domestic growth and by also calibrating to Haiti's domestic needs for agricultural expansion, public works, job creation, health care, schools, sanitation, infrastructure, and by adding enforceable human rights, labor, environmental rights provisions in US trade laws; permanently stop all deportations to Haiti, grant TPS; stop trading for Haiti with USAID, demand new foreign aid guidelines and oversight of USAID in Haiti. Investigate the role of US in the 2004 coup d'etat where US Special forces forcibly exiled President Jean Bertrand Aristide via an unmarked plane used for renditions."
Barack Obama came into office and sent Bill Clinton to Haiti with a "development plan" for more sweatshops enabling the Haitian Oligarchy and President Rene Preval to reject a mere .63 cents an hour minimum wage increase in order to please US sweatshop owners.
So, today in Haiti, it's better for the people NOT to work at the measly $3.00 per day (.38 cents an hour) jobs than to work! Most times transportation and lunch cost more than the worker makes per day. Food in Haiti, like everything else, is imported from the US (via extortionist "free-trade" policies forced upon Haiti) and costly.
After that little media propaganda, there was no more talk of Obama granting TPS to Haitians.
In fact, it seemed that Obama's Homeland Security felt it must make it a priority to hunt down, apprehend, incarcerate and deport Haitian asylum seekers to storm ravaged, famine-stricken Haiti, never mind this was in contravention to international and US national refugee laws for providing safe haven, right to life, security of person, equality under the law and to seek and receive asylum. HLLN asked the question "There are approximately 560,000 ordered deportees in the US, why are only the 30,000 from Haiti being SELECTED for enforcement priority and/or highlighted in the media by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE")?" (HLLN on the report that 30,000 Haitians have been ordered deported by US Federal immigration judges.)
Today Haitians are being routinely deported to Haiti. But others, like the Liberians, whose President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a US sycophant who went to Harvard, Obama's alma mater, and who is providing their territory as a launching pad perhaps for US military command for Africa (AFRICOM), were granted DED by Obama immediately.
Approximately 20,000 Liberians living in the U.S. who had TPS that was about to expire, had their status extended. Their humanitarian needs and circumstances are similar to that of Haitians. But no TPS or DED for Haiti from Obama. Nothing for Haitians. No.
With Haiti, the US has already TAKEN everything they want, via the proxy UN occupation and the shock and awe of the 2004 Coupnapping of democratically-elected President Aristide. There's no need to negotiate or cajole when all has been attained by force already from defenseless Haitians and the UN occupation is deflecting charges of imperialism and racism while a USAID/NGO shadow government cancels out Preval's puppet government. (Video - Emiliano Echeverria & Pierre Labossiere: Coups in Honduras and Haiti)
Last year, in December of 2008, and some three months after the most severe hurricanes to hit Haiti in remembered times - the four 2008 Haiti hurricanes/storms - according to human rights organizations, famine and disease had settled in and the people in the badly hit town of Gonaives were still living on rooftops. Various reports indicated that foreign aid and donations had unraveled, especially because the international NGOs and humanitarian organizations were not working in cooperation with the Haitian government, routinely by-passing them. There was no clear coordination among them.
Towards the end of October 2008, at least 26 severely malnourished children died in the Baie d'Orange communal section in Belle-Anse, a remote region of Haiti.
Also in December, there was a school collapse where almost 100 children died.
In New York, 65 tons of food collected by New York Haitians for Haiti still remained in storage after four months because USAID instructed the food had to go to one of its approved NGOs, not directly to the Haitian government. Ezili's HLLN was told, upon inquiring why these donations were not flown out as urgency demanded, that the Federal Government declined transport and even when New York offered to pay for transport, their National Guards were denied airspace clearance. It seemed that USAID, as the US Federal Government agency in charge, would rather see the collected food, water and medicine rot than have their contractors NOT make money off its shipment and delivery in Haiti! And, it did rot in a warehouse in New York while the storm-ravaged people New York Haitians had collected it for, starved and died.
Aid workers and even a US lawmaker expressed fear that the death toll could rise much higher as more Haitian children starve and die without ever receiving appropriate nutrition therapy. Compounding this was the worldwide financial and food crisis requiring the bailout of the most wealthy in the world.
According to the U.N. the world wide resulting high food prices created more hunger.
This was about the time, Ezili's HLLN stepped up its TPS campaign, stating that under these circumstances, it was not the time to deport Haitians, who are providing the most direct aid to Haiti and sending life-saving remittances to their starving families, to storm crippled-Haiti..." (See, No other national group anywhere in the world sends money home in higher proportion than Haitians living abroad.)
Obama was elected and he did less than even Bush. For, at least Bush had stopped all deportations to Haiti for three months.
Since Obama's inauguration on January 20, 2009, Haitians are routinely deported, held in chains in ICE detention centers and or with monitoring devices.
During the funeral of Father Jean Juste, the UN shot a mourner to death and said it was the crowd that killed him. During a 3 am helicopter operations, Rinvil Jean Weldy, a local resident investigating the dead-of-night helicopter landing in his Grand Goave town, was shot in the arm by a UN soldier. The UN said, according to the Haitian press, that the bullet was in the imagination of the crazy Haitians, the injured man simply fell on a prickly bush!
In terms of UN soldiers and humanitarian workers engaging in sexual exploitation of Haiti's children Canadian Priest John Duarte is in court facing nine counts of sexually exploiting adolescent boys in Port-au-Prince and the northern village of Labadie, where he ran a mission. US missionary Douglas Perlitz has been indicted in the US on nearly identical charges for sexually abusing nine boys in Cap-Haitien. The UN released a report where the 114-Sri Lankan soldiers who were deported from Haiti for building a brothel in Martissant, charged with sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of minors, prostitution and rape, have mostly not been punished. Sexual exploitation and rape by soldiers is a war crime. But there's been no punishment for UN soldiers violating Haitians. (See, I am the history of rape; Sri Lankan Army Peace keepers Abusing Children in Haiti and BBC News Sri Lanka Army Sexually Abuse 100s Haiti.)
Haiti's largest political party has been excluded from the upcoming Feb. elections. There are over 6,440 very poor Haitians in jails, many since 2004, guarded by UN soldiers back-up firepower. They've not been charged, seen a judge or had a hearing. But the Obama team is saying Haiti is now "open for business." (See also, An Ezili Dantò Book Review: TRAVESTY in Haiti : A true account of Christian missions, orphanages, fraud, false food aid... and Fulfilling Leclerc imperative:debt, free trade, wage slavery, UN occupation, UN provoke mourners, gun down unarmed, blames it on victims, Oil in Haiti - Economic Reasons for the UN/US occupation, and Haiti's Holocaust and Middle Passage Continues.)
Ohh, I forgot, someone reported a "very good" thing happened to Haiti in 2009. Yep, tremendous. Bill Clinton named Paul Farmer as his deputy UN Envoy to Haiti! It now takes a UN motorcade of lots of bullet-proof cars and heavily armed guards to transport the good doctor around Haiti. How marvelous is that for Haiti's poor! Officialdom imperialist envoy must be protected from them there brutal peasant Haitians.
Anyway that's THEIR notion of progress...in Haiti! (Listen to Obama's empty "Wi Nou Kapab - Yes We Can" promise for change to Haitian-Americans.)
But... never mind all this, here's the Obama New Year's message to Haiti, via a message from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the occasion of the 206 anniversary of Haiti's independence. Happy New Year under US/UN occupation Haiti. With love, from Barack Obama:
Repubic of Haiti Independence Day
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
December 29, 2009
On behalf of President Obama and the people of United States, I congratulate the people of the Republic of Haiti as they celebrate their 206th anniversary of independence on January 1, 2010.
This is an occasion to honor the history and heritage of Haiti and to remember the heroes who founded the first independent black republic, not just the icons such as Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Alexandre Petion, but also the countless men and women who stood up for their right to live as free people and gave a legacy of freedom for future generations. Their accomplishment changed the face of our world, and their story continues to be an inspiration today.
We also salute the many contributions that Haitian-Americans have made to the culture and prosperity of the United States. Our two nations are bound by strong bonds of friendship and family, united both by our shared history and our common hopes for the future.
The United States stood with Haiti after the tragic hurricanes of 2008, and we remain committed to being a partner and a friend. This has been a year for rebuilding and renewal, and Haitians can be proud of their accomplishments. As 2010 begins, Haiti is poised for a strong future, ready to provide leadership toward its own economic growth, health, and security.
I offer my warmest wishes for a peaceful and prosperous year.
# # #
Ezili's Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
***********Boukmann's Righteous Prayer – Lapriyè Boukman
January 1, 2010 will make 206 years since Haiti abolished slavery, direct colonialism and became an independent Black nation. Since the assassination of Haiti's founding father, two years after independence, Haiti has been struggling against neocolonialism. To re-member the ancestors' struggle and triumph, HLLN posts last year's Jan 1st essay: 2009 - Another Haitian Independence Day under occupation
It's child labor that must be addressed and ended in Haiti, not slavery. See,
The Slavery in Haiti the Media Won't Expose
Sri Lankan Army Peace keepers Abusing Children in Haiti
BBC News Sri Lanka Army Sexually Abuse 100s Haiti
She's able to stay for a year, but her case is still pending
By SUSAN CARROLL
Dec. 31, 2009, 7:18PM
Karen Warren Chronicle
Marie Baptiste said she came to the United States when she was 9 and didn't know relatives brought her illegally.
After years of fearing she could be deported at any moment, immigration officials have granted a Houston middle school teacher a one-year reprieve.
Marie Baptiste, 30, said she was told just before Christmas by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials that she had been granted “deferred action” for one year, meaning they will not try and deport her during that time.
“I thank God,” said Baptiste, whose relatives brought her to the U.S. from Haiti when she was 9 years old. “We're a little bit less tense.”
Baptiste, now a middle school science teacher in Houston, said she didn't realize she was in the country illegally until she was about to graduate from high school. She went on to earn a degree from the University of Houston and then a teaching certificate.
Baptiste met and married her husband, a Fort Bend County constable, over a decade ago, and they started a family.
Fighting to stay
In 2000, Baptiste filed for legal status, and the application appeared to be progressing, she said, until she arrived to an immigration court hearing less than 10 minutes late after rushing her daughter to the doctor that morning. In the meantime, the immigration judge had ordered her removed in absentia.
Since then, Baptiste has been fighting to stay in the country, appealing her removal order.
In 2006, she was picked up by immigration agents and detained for six months.In November, ICE agents stopped Baptiste on her way to school, but did not take her into custody after she had an anxiety attack.
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, who has made appeals to ICE on Baptiste's behalf, called Baptiste's case “symbolic of the completely broken immigration system that we have in this country.”
“She grew up in our system,” Jackson Lee said. “She was educated in our system. She married an American citizen and her children were born here. What greater connection can you have than family to a country that you obviously love? She is a well-respected school teacher with talent that we need.”
With the temporary reprieve, Baptiste said she and her husband are able to relax a little, but are still worried about the ultimate outcome of her case, which is pending before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“I just want to be free,” Baptiste said. “I really want to be free.”
Dec. 30 2009 | Democracy Now
On Wednesday morning, Jean Montrevil was attending a regular immigration check-in when he was detained by agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE. He now faces deportation to Haiti for a twenty-year-old drug conviction, for which he has already served eleven years in prison. He has not broken any laws since then. Montrevil is married to an American citizen and is the father of four US citizen children. Montrevil is a longtime community leader in New York City and active in a number of immigrant rights groups, including Families for Freedom, the NYC New Sanctuary Movement, and Detention Watch Network.
JUAN GONZALEZ: We end today with a story of a Haitian immigrant to this country who could be deported this week. Jean Montrevil came to the United States legally in 1986. He’s married to an American citizen and is the father of four US citizen children. Montrevil is a longtime community leader in New York City and active in a number of immigrant rights groups, including Families for Freedom, the New York City New Sanctuary Movement, and Detention Watch Network.
On Wednesday morning, he was attending a regular immigration check-in when he was detained by agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE. He now faces deportation to Haiti for a twenty-year-old drug conviction, for which he has already served eleven years in prison. He has not broken any law since then.
We contacted ICE for comment, but they did not respond to our query for the reasons for Montrevil’s detention.
AMY GOODMAN: For more on the case, we’re joined now by two guests. Here in our New York studio, Joshua Bardavid is with us. He’s Jean Montrevil’s attorney. And we’re joined on the phone by Jani Montrevil, Jean Montrevil’s wife. She’s at home with their children.
Let’s start with you. Explain his case. Why now? And what were the charges against him years ago?
JOSHUA BARDAVID: Well, the “why now” is a question that we haven’t been able to answer—excuse me. The charges against him years ago were for a drug conviction that occurred when he was a teenager, shortly after arriving in the United States. He essentially made some bad decisions, got involved with the wrong crowd. His father had passed away, and I guess he made a big mistake, for which he served time in jail.
AMY GOODMAN: Eleven years.
JOSHUA BARDAVID: Eleven years in jail. As a result of that conviction, he was placed into deportation proceedings. At the time he was placed in deportation proceedings, he was eligible for an application. Unfortunately, by the time his case was adjudicated, the law had changed, and he was no longer eligible. So, while the appeals courts expressed concern that he was prejudiced by this change in law, he was never able to actually have his case fully adjudicated. He was ordered deported.
Unfortunately, the Haitian government would not—was not accepting deportees at the time, and he was released and able to resume his life. During that time, he proved himself to be an incredible member of our community. He married a US citizen, has four US citizen children. He’s a loving father, a loving husband. He became very involved in his church, the Judson Memorial Church, active in numerous causes, numerous charities.
He was also regularly checking in with ICE. He didn’t try to go into hiding. He didn’t try to do anything. He continued to make his presence known to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And for reasons that are unknown, they decided yesterday to detain him and apparently intend on deporting him within the next seventy-two hours to one week.
JUAN GONZALEZ: What kind of appeals process is left to him?
JOSHUA BARDAVID: Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there is any legal appeals processes available to him. In 1996, the immigration laws were reformed by Congress, and they cut off—
JUAN GONZALEZ: And signed by President Clinton.
JOSHUA BARDAVID: Signed by President Clinton. And the laws became extremely harsh, and they cut off numerous appeals. And they also cut off discretion for immigration judges to consider things like the impact on US citizen children. Right now there’s a bill pending in Congress, the Child Citizen Protection Act, which would, for the first time since 1996, give immigration judges the authority to consider the impact that the deportation would have versus the nature of the reason a person is deportable, in this case because of the criminal offense.
AMY GOODMAN: Jani Montrevil, you’re home with the kids right now. Your children are American citizens?
JANI MONTREVIL: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you an American citizen?
JANI MONTREVIL: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And when did you learn that your husband would be deported? What does this mean to you? Where is he now?
JANI MONTREVIL: I don’t know where he is. I’ve been calling all over, and nobody has any information. So, actually, I don’t know. He filed for a deferred action, which basically is asking—was asking immigration to defer his deportation. They never responded. They just detained him yesterday.
AMY GOODMAN: And what does this mean for you and your children?
JANI MONTREVIL: I’m going to be a single mother. And I was laid off from working for the Department of Education about two years ago, collecting unemployment. And my unemployment has two more weeks left of payment. And it’s going to be real hard, because his income is not going to be here anymore.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And what kind of work was your husband involved in before he was seized?
JANI MONTREVIL: We have a fifteen-passenger transportation business. We basically transfer people back and forth to the airport, to day cares and stuff of that nature.
AMY GOODMAN: Joshua Bardavid, what could be done at this point? Now, if he has completely served his eleven years—and that was, what, ten years ago?
JOSHUA BARDAVID: That was more than ten years ago, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: More than ten years ago. Is it the intervention of politicians, of people? How does ICE respond?
JOSHUA BARDAVID: Well, ICE does have the discretion to grant what’s called deferred action, and essentially it’s a determination that their resources are limited and that they should not be spending their valuable resources on deporting an individual who has proven himself to be an important member of our community.
As Jani said, she has four children. Jean Montrevil had started a business, was paying his taxes, contributing in numerous ways. To now remove him from his family, to remove him from his community, has done a detriment not only to him and to his family, but to us as a society. We have to ask ourselves, what is better? To take a father away from his family, when that father has proven himself to be a caring father, a caring husband, a contributing member of our society, or to allow him to remain?
And the last hope is that Immigration and Customs Enforcement will consider this deferred action, through community pressure, through political intervention, they will make a declaration within the next seventy-two hours that their resources shouldn’t be spent on removing this individual from the United States and taking him away from all of us.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Have any members of Congress or the senators here in New York intervened? Because it’s my experience in these cases that when a congressman or a senator gets directly involved, that there’s a greater likelihood of ICE using discretion.
JOSHUA BARDAVID: There are members of Congress who are intervening as we speak and doing what they can to assist. Whether that’s going to bear fruit, we’re not sure.
AMY GOODMAN: Joshua Bardavid, I want to thank you for being with us. And Jani Montrevil, best to you. We will continue to follow this case.