Forum Haiti : Des Idées et des Débats sur l'Avenir d'Haiti

Forum Haiti : Des Idées et des Débats sur l'Avenir d'Haiti

FOROM AYITI : Tèt Ansanm Pou'n Chanje Ayiti.
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 Reportage honnete sur la situation haitienne.

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Super Star
Super Star

Nombre de messages : 8250
Localisation : Canada
Opinion politique : Indépendance totale
Loisirs : Arts et Musique, Pale Ayisien
Date d'inscription : 02/03/2007

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Jeu de rôle: Maestro

Reportage honnete sur la situation haitienne. Empty
MessageSujet: Reportage honnete sur la situation haitienne.   Reportage honnete sur la situation haitienne. EmptySam 26 Avr 2008 - 12:12

Saturday 26 April 2008
By Sophie Claudet/FRANCE 24
Analysis, reports, and interviews: check out our special report on the world food crisis.

Friday April 25

Haitian President René Préval has yet to announce the name of the future prime minister, though we hear it’s only a matter of hours.

Meanwhile, we're back in Cité Soleil. It’s the third time since we arrived and needless to say nothing has changed. But we begin to learn more about how and why Haiti came to be in such a dire state of hunger and poverty. Cité Soleil continues to offer precious clues. Port-au-Prince’s largest and most destitute slum, the Cité Soleil was established back in the 1980s when people from the countryside started flocking to the nearby newly-created industrial zone. The foreign textiles firms that had started to open there meant that many jobs were created at once.

But the industrial zone didn’t flourish the way it was supposed to (political instability, US embargo meaning many US firms relocated to the Dominican Republic, and to other more stable Central and Latin American countries). But the exodus continued from the countryside to the city and that’s how several shantytowns came to be. That’s not all – peasants also left their land because the demand for their products started dwindling.

Today we met with a bunch of former peasants in Cité Soleil; some well into their sixties. They’d never imagined they would end up like this, unemployed for the most part, dependent on food handouts with nothing to show, living in tiny concrete houses (for the luckiest – others make do with corrugated iron shacks) with sewage water running through the alley-ways and rotting garbage littering the streets. They told us their story.

They invariably came from the Cayes (where the last food riots started) and from the Artibonite regions of Haiti – both used to produce enough to cover the country’s food needs, but no longer do. I’ve tried to explain in previous posts and in our short reporting pieces why and how Haiti’s agricultural sector ended up in decline: political decisions to import cheaper US agricultural products (especially rice) in the mid-1980s and to try and develop Haiti’s industries instead (especially manufactured garments for export), US food dumping…

The fact of the matter is that Haiti is and has been suffering from hunger and malnutrition for a long, long time when it shouldn’t be the case. And guess what, I’m told that rice was not even eaten on a daily basis before it started being massively imported. The eating habits of the poor and lower-middle class were actually changed back in the mid-1980s. Meals were apparently much more varied when Haiti was producing a wide range of foods.

We’re off to the countryside tomorrow… I guess I’ll have many more stories to tell when we come back.

Tuesday, April 22

Today, for once, we have the chance and the time to leave Port-au-Prince, if only for a day. The first thing we notice is that the roads - if we may call them such - are in a dreadful state as soon as one leaves the main axes.

The consequences of this collapsing infrastructure are all too obvious: isolation, obstacles to trade with the capital, and subsequent rural exodus toward Port-au-Prince.

On first look, poverty is less overwhelming in the countryside, where population density remains well below the levels reached in the capital. Yet, our first impression is soon dispelled by evidence of the people's misery.

This is particularly the case in the areas of Croix-des-Bouquets (as sung by the home-grown celebrity Wyclef Jean) and Petit Bois. Some live in sturdy houses, while others make do with huts. Agriculture is scant; though it seems rich, the land is in truth arid.

Here and there among the palm and mango trees, an emaciated cow munches at a few twigs of straw, already burnt by the April sun.

Driving along I caught sight of a countryside clinic: three concrete structures ripped open and a tent stretched in between - the "maternity room." The clinic used to be called "God's thank."

The people's unshakeable faith is everywhere present, proclaimed clear and loud on shop windows and city walls, as well as on the rainbow-coloured minibuses that promise eternal faith in the Lord.

Monday, April 21

Today, we set out to meet Haitians who are fortunate enough to have jobs – there are not a lot of them. More than 70 percent of the population is unemployed, according to the country’s official statistics.

This does not include the black market, a ubiquitous feature of Haitian economic life.

This being the black market, earnings are not very high—unless, of course, we take into account the smuggled goods and everything connected to the country’s corruption, practices that seem rather well-developed.

The government has promised to root out corruption, but it’s not an easy task. In particular, bringing in goods and not paying customs duties on them, a fraudulent practice if there ever was one. New measures are being introduced to address the problem, but in the absence of developed systems, it results in tonnes of produce rotting for weeks in the capital - in the middle of a food crisis!

Getting back to the workers, knowing that more than two-thirds of Haitians live on less than 1.5 euros per day, we wanted to meet the demographic at the heart of this massive poverty: the workers.

The official minimum wage in Haiti is 1.5 euros per day, just above the poverty line. Life is especially tough for workers at a time of rising food prices. Working conditions are not as horrible as one would assume when we note the way that a large part of the population lives and considering that it’s a country where the market is totally deregulated. That said, however, one doesn’t go far on 1.5 euros per day, especially when eating at the factory costs half the daily wage.

The Haitians we met at an industrial park in Port-au-Prince - workmen, foremen and even factory owners - seemed happy to welcome us to show that "Haitians are workers and we want to get by on their own.” We were never in any doubt about it and have noticed this many times during the short trip.

The foreign companies in the industrial park, on the other hand, were much less accessible. The Koreans simply denied us access to their factories, as did the US workshops producing sports garments.

At one factory, Haitian workers gave us access into the site once their American boss was back at his hotel. As I mentioned, it was no paradise. But at least we did not see children working, and though the heat was oppressive, there were ventilators in the large hall where 350 garment workers sweated behind machines eight hours a day with only a half-hour lunch break.

They asked us not mention the brand of the sportswear they were producing and we will respect this, of course.

The factory was closed for a year and half and has just been reopened. With the new lifting of custom duties on textile goods bound for the US market, exports at the factory have been rising. It’s not a panacea, but manual-labor industries creating jobs is a rare thing in Haiti.

It remains to be seen how much a pair of gym shorts will be sold for in the US market. One can imagine it’ll be more than one or two or three euros a piece, no?

Sunday, April 20

Haiti is in a state of uncertainty, for at least part of the population, the other, the vast majority is more worried about finding something to eat. According to MPs I've been talking to, a new prime minister should be named in the days or hours to come. Whoever the new prime minister may be, he (or she? it’s already happened in Haiti) will have trouble settling the food crisis in a matter of days, months or even years.

Observers here are saying that Haitians must completely rethink the island’s development, whether it be international donators or politicians – although certain politicians are calling for the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The former president still enjoys incredible popularity among the poor.

During the hunger riots two weeks ago and even more recently, protesters have been calling for the president in exile to come save them from their misery.

Has Aristide merely been elevated to the status of a fantastic, populist icon? Is this adoration justified? Whatever the case may be, under Aristide’s rule, Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the Americas.

For Haiti to experience further development, the nation must first end its dependence on other nations for its food and humanitarian needs.

Some figures: of a national budget of 77 billion gourdes (the local currency), only 30 billion come from taxes. The rest is financed by the international community.

Agricultural products like rice are imported largely from the US. This sector must be revitalized. Farmers currently don’t even have seeds to plant...mostly because they ate them...

It’s astonishing to learn that most services like education and health are in the private and NGO sector, and thus not universal or free.

These services must be made available to the poorest people. Only one child in two attends school, according to official statistics. The actual figure might well be lower. Seventy percent of the population lives on less than 1.5 euros a day.

What else can I say this Sunday? The weather is lovely, after all it is the Caribbean and yet only a few kilometers away the shanty town inhabitants live in abject poverty, whiles other Haitians take advantage of the sunny afternoon by their pools, or playing tennis.

All that to say, the gap between rich and poor here is unbelievable. And we're told tax evasion is running high.

Saturday, April 19

The Republic of Haiti (which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the wealthier Dominican Republic) boasts luxurious vegetation, beautiful valleys and a splendid landscape.

But one cannot ignore the poverty. At Bel Air, a poor neighbourhood in the capital Port-au-Prince, the residents struggle to make their ends meet.

I saw children in uniform standing outside school, women at the market, even if they couldn’t buy anything, the streets milling with people, young people who came up to me smiling to talk about unemployment, and to show me the mixture of maize and water that is their daily fare… people who had not completely given up.

At the Cité Soleil it’s another story – living conditions are unimaginable and barely humane. Some 400,000 people live in this slum, almost all unemployed. Some try to board “fortune boats” to the United States. The situation is ironic, as planes headed for the US fly over the Cité Soleil constantly, as the airport is not far away.

And then there are the hundreds of children – often barefoot and sometimes completely naked. The youngest have smiles on their faces. The older ones look haggard and have hardened faces like so many children who suffer too soon and too hard.

A part of the neighbourhood has concrete houses, but most of the lodgings are mere shacks where the people sleep on the floor.

Further away, a few pigs wallow undisturbed in a giant body of waste water which people use as toilets, as no proper sanitation is available.

A woman carrying a baby with a swollen tummy in her arms approaches us and invites us into her cabin. “The little one is sick - she’s got worms,” she says. Her other daughter, Lovencia, has scars on her cheek and neck – she was injured during a gang shootout. On her cheek and neck are three blistered scars. She is seven years old, but does not seem older than five. Her father died of a gunshot wound a few months after her accident.

Violence and poverty are rampant at the Cité Soleil but the sudden jump in prices is the final straw for this region that lives on humanitarian and government aid but is all but forgotten. In a society where people live in sub-human conditions, the food crisis seems almost just a drop in an ocean of distress.

Truth without Pontification!
Par wizowid

If we say that we love one another, but do not care for our hungry and sick neighbor, we live a lie and the truth is not in us.

I lived in the Artibonite for two years working beside some of the finest men and women that I have ever known; they were Haitian.

The story of Haiti is sad history, but it doesnt have to be her future.

Your log tells us an oft read story of desparate people in a dire place, but your message is not tired like the others! No!
It refreshes because you are telling the story for their sake and not some popular cause.

Your story may not sell newsprint like the hyperbolic or the politically motivated, but it's raw-ness and unanswered calamity will doubtless save many more lives of the Haitians that I have come to love.
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