Here is a PDF of my essay ‘The Militarization of Aid as an Act of Religious Violence’ which was recently published in the Transmission Annual publication on Catastrophe. In the essay I reflect upon the militarization of aid in post-earthquake Haiti from the perspective of George Bataille’s Theory of Religion.

Catastrophe Cover020

Beware, of his promise,/Believe, what I say

Before, I go forever/Be sure, of what you say

 So he paints a pretty picture/And he tells you that he needs you

And he covers you with flowers/And he always keeps you dreaming

 If he always keeps you dreaming/You won’t fear the lonely hours

If a day could last forever/You might like your ivory tower

 But the night begins to turn your head around/ And you know you’re gonna lose more than you’ve found

Yes, the night begins to turn your head around

The Night – Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

 

What if we took Jason Russell’s mission to ‘Cover the Night’ with Joseph Kony posters literally? Let’s take ‘the night’ in its poetic, metaphorical sense as a time of darkness, fear, illicit freedoms, predatory, carnal animality, ‘the dark night of the human soul’, and all that, and then imagine covering up this terrible dark space with endlessly duplicated, Warholesque pictures of a mass murderer. 

Not a bad image really. Fair play to ‘em!

A recent editorial in Black Star News makes a last minute plea for Invisible Children (the organization founded by Jason Russell which produced Kony 2012) to call off it’s ‘Let’s Cover the Night’ plan. At a forum at New York University’s School of Law Victor Ochen asked how Americans would feel if some organization had decided to make Osama bin Laden famous by wearing bin Laden T-shirts and plastering the streets with posters to promote a military campaign to capture or kill him. As we well know, the US government didn’t need the pressure of a viral marketing campaign to get that job done. But this should not obscure the parallels between the mission to terminate both commands. A recent article in the Washington Post reports from the newest US military outpost in the Central African Republic where US Special Forces – Russell’s euphemistic ‘advisors’ – are already, allegedly, well on Kony’s case.

“The Americans have captured Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein,” a local tribal chief told the journalist “Surely they can catch Joseph Kony.”

There is, understandably, some scepticism about the US military presence in the region and the actual reasons for it. “The LRA has reappeared,” said Martin Modove, the head of the Catholic diocese in Obo. “The presence of the Americans has not changed anything. We just see the Americans driving or walking in town. We don’t see what they are doing to catch Kony.”

Oh dear. This does sound familiar. Some of you may recall the arrival of the US military in post-earthquake Haiti and how, as an Al Jazeera news report put it five days after the quake, ‘Most Haitians have seen little humanitarian aid so far.  What they have seen is guns, and lots of them’. And not much has changed since then.

What we see in both the Kony 2012 mission and the militarization of aid in post-earthquake Haiti is the strategic manipulation of collective human sympathy towards the suffering of others as a pretext for US military intervention in countries with strategic and/or military-economic value. In October last year President Obama announced he would be sending US Special Forces on a ‘humanitarian mission to help defeat the LRA. US troops will only use their weapons in ‘self defence’ or, in what amounts to the same thing, in protection of the ‘national security of the United States’. Kony’s threat to the US has nothing to do with his treatment of child soldiers or the murder, rape and kidnap of thousands of civilians. It is being used as a moral pretext to divert attention from the real reasons for being in the region: the strategic economic value of Africa as a continent and the need to challenge China’s territorial control of the resources there. John Pilger has described this as part of a new ‘Scramble for Africa’.

In his article KONY 2012 and The “White Man’s Burden” Revisited Amii Omara-Otunnu draws parallels between the logic of the Kony 2012 mission the 19th century, overtly colonial, proto-NGO’s.

‘The European NGOs of the period, such as Christian missionaries, chartered commercial companies and geographical explorers, astutely manipulated the ignorance and sense of compassion among Westerners to evoke pity for Africans and in the process provided pretext, justification and support for European powers to intervene in the continent.’

‘The gist of the potent public relations strategy used by European NGOs in the nineteenth century was that European powers needed to intervene in the continent for humanitarian reasons. One compelling “humanitarian reason” retailed at the time was to abolish the slave trade and ameliorate its evil impact.’

‘What, of course, transpired as a result of the various campaigns by European NGOs in the nineteenth century was that European powers met in [sic] Berlin Conference from November 1884 to February 1885 to work out the ground rules for dividing up Africa among themselves, without due consideration of the interests of African peoples.’

The parallel strategies of Kony 2012 and the 19th century NGO’s include: directing attention towards the victims rather than the long-term, macro-political causes of their suffering; manipulating the ignorance, sentimentality and sense of compassion of people in the West in order to profit from the misery of Africans; giving the impression that primary agents in these missions are motivated by altruism rather than self-interest; and combining an image of a diabolical ‘inhuman’ tyrant with the suffering of Africans in general in order to justify imperialist military intervention in the country.

Such parallels may in part account for the fact that at some of the screenings of Kony 2012 in Uganda viewers pelted the screen with stones: a bizarre symbolic fulfilment of Jason Russell’s initial inspiration to go to Uganda in the first place.

CELEBRITY SALVATION

It is perhaps not surprising that Jason Russell’s thespian background would make him a big fan of the celebritariat. We could even see Kony 2012 as a sort of substitute for the genocide musical he never got to make, with his 20 ‘culture makers’ as the cast, and 12 policy makers as the backers.  But there’s no more ‘waiting to be discovered’ for Jason now. There does however seem to be some dark psychology at work in Kony 2012 and the plan to ‘Make Kony Famous’. The scene where Russell tries to explain to his son the difference between the nice, good little boy – ‘just like you!’ – and the ‘evil man’ who makes little boys – ‘just like you’ – do horrible things to other little boys – ‘just like you’ – is particularly psycho. I can’t help imagining Kony’s face staring back at Russell in the mirror of his darkest dreams, the faces alternating with increasing frequency (Good Dad/Bad Dad, Good Dad/Bad Dad, Good Dad/Baghdad, Good God/Bad Dad, God Good /Dad Bad) until the  face of Kony replaces his own and stares back at him, learing, Hyde-like.

Equally enjoyable in terms of this dark fantasy is the video for another of his Invisible Children projects – The Fourth Estate – a video invitation to join the new revolution. In it Kony…I mean Russell…speaks of “a new Liberty, a new Right, a Citizenship founded on the belief that all men and women in the world are created equal.”. As he speaks a faceless, silhouetted and sharply-dressed executive-type gently touches one photo on a wall of mug-shots of twenty-somethings with the their faces obscured by the word ‘Uninvited’ (Imagine the horror of not being able to take part in this world-changing fun-fest of diabolical despot terminating! Un-endurable.) In this new world, “Justice for all is not a fantasy”. Cut to the faceless deliverer of the new constitution/party invitation being chauffeured in a very expensive-looking, super-shiny-black sports-limo: “A generation that will pursue the world’s worst criminals, no matter where they hide, or who they kill, and bring them to justice. It is the future. Some of us are not ready. Most of us fear the change. Others see what could be and what is waiting to be made”. World-changing, wax-sealed letter arrives at a surprisingly skanky- looking doorway. As the letter is opened the voice tells us “The time has come for a new estate”. On August 2011 a new revolution will be mapped out. And you are invited to be part of it. Cut to shabby young man in a hoodie walking into the blinding limelight of a cinema auditorium. “You will say it all began at the Fourth Estate. Because it will’.

You shall go to the ball.

The ‘viral success’ of Kony 2012 owes much to its celebrity endorsements. As demonstrated with the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, celebrities are quick to use the power of their fame and wealth to ‘raise awareness’ of the suffering of poor people in far off countries. A list of the top celebrity donors, the causes they give to, and – for those with strong stomachs –  a catalogue of drearily predictable, sentimental slush videos can be found at Look to the Stars – The World of Charity Giving.

As George Clooney, A-list socially conscious celebrity, and one of Kony’s…I mean Russell’s…20 ‘culture makers’ put it in the video: ‘I’d like indicted war criminals to enjoy the same level of celebrity as me. That seems fair. That’s our objective. It’s to just shine a light on it’.

That Clooney and Russell apply the same theatrical metaphor of the limelight is telling here. There is, I think, a fundamental relationship, which I won’t expand any further here, between the ‘banality of sentimentality’ proposed by Teju Cole, the ‘Hello-magazine effect’ (i.e. the illusion of easy-access meritocracy generated by celebrity culture) and the popular, youthful, utopian, humanitarianism exploited by Kony 2012.

This is explicitly the case in Haiti, where US imperialism, disaster capitalism and Evangelical missions are inextricably linked. How precisely the celebrity saviour complex fits in with these processes will need to be addressed in a later post.

The White Saviour Industrial Complex would be an excellent placeholder for these themes, except that the celebritariat is not an explicitly white machine.  In the case of Haiti, although Bradd Pitt and Angelina Jolie were first off the celebrity doner starting blocks – followed up by Madonna – Wyclef Jean, Oprah Winfrey and Tiger Woods were hot on their heels.

I’m not explicitly criticizing any of these individuals and their motives for wanting to raise awareness and revenue to fight for their pet humanitarian causes. What’s more interesting is how the deeper psychic mechanism of fame is mobilized for popular humanitarian causes, how this mechanism recursively endorses celebrity culture in general, perpetuates magical-thinking on the part of charity givers that their donations will actually lead to a reduction in the amount of real human suffering and diverts popular consciousness away from the real political and economic causes of that suffering.

Putting celebrity mass murderers in the limelight only casts the imperialist military-economic strategy of the US into deeper obscurity. And this is something that Evangelical Christian organizations, of the kind that Russell is personally involved in, have a fundamental role in.

 

 

 

 

 


Here is a recent bulletin from Democracy Now in which Dan Coughlin and Haïti Liberté editor Kim Ives discuss recent US intervention in Haiti. It includes exposes about how the Haitian elite and business class tried to use Haiti’s police force as their own private armies after the ousting of President Aristide in 2004, how the US, the EU and the UN supported recent elections in full knowledge of the unfair exclusion of the Lavalas party, and how US contractors worked aggressively with the US Embassy to block a minimum wage increase for Haitian ‘assembly zone’ workers. Amy Goodman will be chairing the conversation between Julian Assange and Slavoj Žižek which will take place in London on July 2nd. This discussion will be broadcast at Democracy Now.

Haiti: Six Months Later

July 13, 2010

There seems to have been a flurry of media reports about Haiti commemorating the 6th month anniversary of the earthquake.

The general picture is one in which only a small fraction of the millions of dollars donated by the general public and charity organizations has been converted into concrete assistance for the people of Haiti. Read the rest of this entry »

Tele Geto is coming to the Portman Gallery in Morpeth School in July and October 2010. Tele Geto was created by Ti Moun Rezistans of the Grand Rue area in Port-au-Prince during the Ghetto Biennale. In light of the lack of video news coming from the ground in Haiti after the earthquake I sent a basic video recording kit so that the children of the Grand Rue could document life there after the quake. These films will be shown at the gallery between the 15th and 20th of July along with sculptures made in workshops with Andre Eugene  (Atis Rezistans) by a ‘mirror-group’ of students from Morpeth School. These students will also be given the same kit as the kids from Grand Rue to make videos about their own lives in the East End. Pedro Lasch will be doing video and ‘naturalization’ workshops with the Morpeth School kids during the first show. The videos will be shared with the Ti Moun kids over the internet. A second show will take place in October.

Here are some stills from the videos made by Tele Geto:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Destroyed Building in Grand Rue

Plaza Jeremie Camp

Women's food line outside Hotel Oloffson


I will be speaking as a guest on Tracy Moberly’s Late, Late Breakfast Show on Resonance FM on Friday 26th Feb from 12 till 1 pm. Tracy, who participated in Ghetto Biennale with her Power in the Blood project, will also be speaking to André Eugene from Atis-Rezistans.

Belle Williams speaks about the Ghetto Biennale

Here is a great short film featuring Belle Williams from the Grand Rue Atis-Resiztans community talking about the Ghetto Biennale and how the community is responding the the crisis.

And here is a very good program on Haiti after the earthquake from Al Jazeera which shows Haitian government workers telling reporters that it is important that they should lead the repair and reconstruction work of Haiti rather than foreigners, a message which we need to support. The program has interviews with Haitian government representatives explaining how they have been handling the disaster and even an interview with Réne Préval, the Haitian president, being questioned about the perceived US occupation of the island. Such reporting has been sadly very rare in our mainstream media.

The program also includes an interview with Haitian businessman Fritz Mevs who is allowing US troops to use his family’s private pier and land on his 2 1/2 million square foot ‘industrial park’ to land helicopters and transfer wounded people to USS Comfort hospital ship. He puts forward a rather unconvincing argument about how private business interests should lead the re-construction of Haiti. “What we need to do”, he says “is not to punish the rich for being rich but to educate the poor to have the means to become rich”.

More problematic are the images of Haitain’s blocking government officials trying to collect aid, suspicious that they are doing so for themselves. In response they chant for the “USA, USA!”. This footage was shot six days after the earthquake when there was still hope that the US military might be better at delivering the much needed aid than the Haitian government which is generally considered to corrupt to do so.

Please pass the link to the video on.


Update from Emergency Meeting at Gasworks, Sunday Jan 24th

Following last week’s meeting to coordinate solidarity action with Haiti we established a working group called the ‘Haiti-London Konbit’. We have set up a list-server with Indymedia where people can post information about upcoming events. Just add your email address and any mails you send will be distributed to the other members of the the group.

Konbit is a traditional form of cooperative communal labour in Haiti, whereby the able-bodied folk of a locality help each other prepare their fields. Haitian peasants, as a rule, have a small plot of land to themselves that they use for subsistence (they feed themselves and their family from it). Otherwise, the bulk of their work is sharecropping, a form of feudal slavery, whereby they work for a landlord who takes the lion’s share of their produce. Konbit involves weeding, stone removal, planting, sometimes even the harvest. It is a time for solidarity and cooperation in the face of adversity and usually involves a feast offered up by the recipient of the help (thanks Andrew Taylor from the Haiti Support Group for this definition).

Most of the people present at the Gasworks meeting agreed that there is a widespread lack of awareness about the basic facts of Haitian history. Even people with an interest in the country are unaware of how and why Haiti became such an economically impoverished nation. The next post on the blog will be a very brief history of Haiti and its Debt. In advance of that post here is something an article on the issue of Haiti’s debt from the PAPDA (Haitian Advocacy Platform for Alternative Development) website and Hilary Beckle’s article The Hate and the Quake.

We would like to develop a Web 2.0 video version of the  story of Haiti’s debt (possibly in collaboration with artists from the Grand Rue) to circulate on the internet. We will be discussing the logistics of this at the Free School event.

During the meeting at Gasworks we began a discussion about the legitimacy of the language of ‘debt’ in the context of Haiti and the racist misrepresentations of post-earthquake Haiti being on the edge of anarchy. I expect there will be more to discuss on these issues at a later date. But in the meantime here is an excellent and well-hyperlinked article on language of ‘looting’ in the journalistic response to the earthquake in Haiti by Rebecca Solnit.

There seemed to be strong support for the idea that what we are witnessing in Haiti is an example of ‘disaster capitalism’ as defined by Naomi Klein, and that the media focus on ‘looters’ and ‘rioters’ was a significant component the ideological apparatus being used to justify the presence of tens of thousands of US military personnel on the island. John Pilger has written an incisive riposte to the militarization of the aid effort in Haiti and parallel media reports about ‘criminal mayhem’ for the New Statesman. Peter Hallward’s recent article for Monthly Review is also very good in this context, arguing that the current US presence in Haiti amounts to a third military occupation.

Update on the best organizations to donate money too

Although some aid is now starting to get through to communities in Haiti, more than three weeks into the massive aid program there is still a severe bottleneck on the resources and the majority of the population have still seen seen no assistance. Leah Gordon has reported that an unofficial zoning system has been put in place by the military authorities divided into green zones, where relief can pass freely, and red zones which have restrictions placed on them. The Grand Rue area for instance is in a red zone, as are many of the poorer neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince. Democracy Now addressed  the problems of aid distribution to the red zones here.

Flavia Cherry, chair of the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) has reported that the major aid agencies have done little to prioritize aid for the most needy member of the population and that it is obvious that the agencies are unable to handle the scale of the problem on the ground there. She questions why Caribbean governments are not being allowed to play a role in the operation despite many willing volunteers who can  speak Creole and are ready to take aid directly to the most needy populations.

Ryan McCrory, Co-Director Haitian Sustainable Development Found, reported his recent experiences with the aid distribution program to the HSG. The large NGO’s require communities to fill out a 100 question form in order to receive aid. These forms can take as long as a week to complete. Of particular difficulty is explaining directions to locations in a city reduced to rubble by the earthquake. The Haitian government is being entirely bypassed in this operation and small organizations have completely given up trying to work with larger NGO’s and the UN because there has still been no sign of their goods being released. Instead they are traveling to the Dominican Republic to buy food and medical provisions..

I have been in regular email contact with Charles Arthur of the Haiti Support Group. The following is a summary of that discussion.

The Haiti Support Group (HSG) has circulated an important statement from the Coordinating Committee of Progressive Organizations presenting an overview of the current situation which can be found on Norman Girvan’s website.

Following this statement the HSG are now concerned that such is the international response to the many Haiti emergency appeals – i.e. so much money has been donated – that those organisations running the appeals will be in a position where they cannot distribute/use the money quickly or in a way that reaches the more marginalised people/organisations. They are concerned that many organisations in Haiti that are working with marginalised people but  don’t have good international connections are not going to get any financial assistance. In this context you might consider making your funds available to the HSG for it to distribute to less well-known but equally deserving grassroots organisations. The HSG would match any tax relief that you would have got by donating to the big humanitarian agencies.

The best way to send money to the HSG is by direct bank-bank transfer, details as follows:

Payee name: Haiti Support Campaign

Payee account number: 6 1 7 2 0 9 4 1

Payee sort code: 6 0 – 0 3 – 3 6

Alternatively you can send a cheque to;

Haiti Support Group

c/o Leah Gordon

10 Swingfield House

Templecombe Road

London E9 7LX

The entirety of donations will be divided in three equal parts and sent as soon as possible to the following:

KOFAVIV is a women’s organisation that for many years has been working with women in the poorest and most marginalised communities in Port-au-Prince. It provides a space for women to meet, medical care for victims of rape, sexual violence, and other violence, advice on legal issues, and many other forms of practical and moral support to women who otherwise would get no help at all. It was the only organisation in Haiti that publicly denounced the rape and sexual violence committed by the gangs that controlled various shanty-towns in Port-au-Prince in the 2004-6 period. KOFAVIV lost its office in the quake. Many core members lost their homes and are now living on under plastic sheets in the main square in the capital. From there, they are trying to continue to provide help to other women.

Batay Ouvriye is a workers’ organisation which since 1995 has been helping factory and plantation workers to organise themselves to win improvements in wages and working conditions. It is one of the few active and effective workers organisations in the country. In Port-au-Prince the core members are providing relief and assistance to the best that their limited resources allow at the Batay Ouvriye centre in Delmas 16. Workers who have lost everything – their jobs, their homes, their spouses and children, and families which have lost their ‘bread-winnner’ are getting help from Batay Ouvriye but the organisation desperately needs financial assistance. It has a few links with organisations abroad but not with any which have large resources to be able to make sizeable donations.

The PAPDA/POHDH plus 4 organisations are some of the most effective Haitian progressive organisations working with the majority population on issues of participatory democracy, the economy, human rights, education, communications, etc. The two platforms and four organisations – many of which lost their offices in the quake – have set up a coordinating committee to pool resources and organise joint responses to the disaster. They have opened a centre in Canape Vert to provide medical and material assistance to survivors. They plan to open more of these centres in areas of the city that are more or less ignored by the large humanitarian agencies.

PAPDA has set up a bank account for the purpose of directing material contributions to the organizations it works with:

PAPDA BANK ACCOUNT FOR CHANNELING SOLIDARITY SUPPORT:

Account Name: Camille Chalmers and Marc-Arthur Fils-Aimé

Account Number: 130-1012-457066 (checking account)

Bank Name: Unibank SA, Port au Prince, Haiti

Swift code: UBNKHTPP

UniBank has many accounts to receive money in Euros or U.S. dollars:

1) At Wachovia bank in New York (BIC Code: PNBPUS3NNYC. ABA / Routing: 026005092). The account of the UniBank there is: 2000192002189

2) At Société Générale, 1221 Avenue of the Americas New York (BIC Code: SOGEUS33. ABA / Routing: 026004226). The account of the UniBank there is: 194,980

3) At Société Générale, Paris la Defense Cedex 92,972 France (BIC Code: SOGEFRPP. Count UniBank there in Euro: 003-01-50607-0 IBAN: Fr 7630003 06990 00301506070 53)

4) In Bank of America, London England (BIC code: BOFAGB22. UniBank Count in euro: 6008 23805023 IBAN: GB33 BOFA 1650 5023 8050 23. In sterling account: 6008 23805015 IBAN: GB33 BOFA 1650 5023 8050 15

5) Banque Nationale du Canada International Commercial Operations, 1010 Rue de la Gauchetière Ouest, Suite 750 Montreal PQ Canada H3B 5K7, BIC Code: BNDCCAMM. Count UniBank there: 097608-236-001-001-01 (Dollars canadieneses) 097608-240-002-001-01 (USD)

6) In Banque Royale du Canada, 180 Wellington Street West Toronto, Ontario M5J 1J1 Canada – BIC Code: ROYCCAT2. Account UniBank d ela there: 09591-406-583-5 (USD) / 09591-390-111-3 ($ CAD)

The Situation in Haiti

January 20, 2010

I will be posting updated information and commentary about the unfolding situation in Haiti here.

We have put out a call to groups, collectives and individuals to attend an emergency meeting to discuss collective action in response to the situation in Haiti. Please send a representative of your group if you can, or email us so we can keep you informed of further action / meetings.

Sunday 24 January 2009
2.00 – 4.00 pm at the Do you remember Olive Morris? exhibition that has meeting space available.
Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall Street, London SE11 5RH (tube: Oval / Stockwell)

I am currently working on a brief historical overview of the situation in Haiti and information about how best to get charity to the right places most effectively and most immediately. I should have this done for the meeting on Sunday and will post it here.

I’ve also uploaded some video footage from the Ghetto Biennale here. It shows Grand Rue artist Alex Louis interviewing the toy Tap Tap makers during the opening event.

I have also posted some images from the Ghetto Biennalehere.

And I just uploaded a clip of Reggie Jean Francois here telling the story of how Sri Lankan troops in the UN mission to Haiti performed a ceremonial ritual on the sculpture of a boar in Port-au-Prince in 2004.

Please feel free to use and circulate.

Donations to Organizations active on the ground in Haiti

Given that the social sector of Haiti is now run almost entirely by NGO’s these are the organizations that are likely to be delivering aid and assistance on the ground there. However the massive involvement of international NGO’s has the long term effect of undermining Haiti’s powers of democratic self-determination.

For people wishing to get their donations directly to the communities in most urgent need I suggest the following organizations, most of which are run largely by Haitians in Haiti:

1)PAPAZA

PAZAPA staff, who survived the quake, indicate that there is an immediate need for food, clean drinking water, shelter and medical care.  They describe virtually no distribution of emergency food (with much of the disaster relief efforts centred in Port au Prince) and have stated that the primary work of emergency relief agencies in that community has focused on search and rescue.  The price of food is rising and water and fuel is becoming dangerously scarce.  They need our help with funds to immediately purchase essential food supplies such as rice, beans and oil, that can be distributed to the centre’s children and families most effected by the quake. PAZAPA staff are working, despite suffering their own losses, to locate and assess the needs of the centre’s children who will be terribly affected by this tragedy.  For more information about the centre, link to a recent video , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OKK1T-zgdA.

2) Konbit Pou Ayiti/KONPAY

Konbit Pou Ayiti/KONPAY (Working Together for Haiti) strengthens existing organizations, builds national networks, creates relationships between individuals and organizations in the U.S. and Haiti, and and supports collaboration and the sharing of technology and expertise. KONPAY focuses on Haitian solutions to environmental, social and economic problems and provides training and funding to grassroots and community-based projects.

Haiti-Earthquake-Emergency-Relief-Campaign

3) Honor and Respect for Bel Air, a big community-based network in Port-au-Prince, and Coordination Régionale des Organisations de Sud-Est (CROSE), which brings together some of the most active community groups in the south (via Avaaz.org)

4) The Lambi Fund of Haiti

The Lambi Fund’s mission is to assist the popular, democratic movement in Haiti. Its goal is to help strengthen civil society as a necessary foundation of democracy and development. The fund channels financial and other resources to community-based organizations that promote the social and economic empowerment of the Haitian people.

5) Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development (PAPDA)

PAPDA is a coalition of nine Haitian popular and non-governmental organizations which work with the Haitian popular movement to develop alternatives to the neo-liberal model of economic globalization. When the Haitian government moved to privatize certain industries, PAPDA worked with the unions and the business community to create strategies that would improve production and minimize cost without privatization.

6) The Haiti Emergency Relief Fund

7)FONKOZE

Fonkoze is Haiti’s alternative bank for the organized poor. In fact, it is a family of three institutions working together shoulder-to-shoulder towards a single compelling mission: building the economic foundations for democracy in Haiti by providing the rural poor with the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty. This mission is reflected in our name, Fonkoze, which is an acronym for the Haitian Creole phrase “Fondasyon Kole Zepòl” meaning “Shoulder-to-Shoulder Foundation.”

8 ) Partners in Health

PIH has been working on the ground in Haiti for over 20 years. We urgently need your support to help those affected by the recent earthquake. Partners In Health (PIH) works to bring modern medical care to poor communities in nine countries around the world. The work of PIH has three goals: to care for our patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around the world.

I await news from Leah Gordon who is now in Port-au-Prince about what is the most effective way to get aid working on the ground.

According to a CNN report from Sunday one of the few working hospitals in Port-au-Prince is La Paz hospital.

This hospital is being run by Cuban medics supporting the strong argument for more Cuban-US cooperation in the aid mission.

Here is a video report from MediaHacker Ansel on the ground in Haiti the day after the quake in which local citizens express their anger at the absence of assistance from either UN or US forces.

Activists and citizens both in and outside of Haiti are concerned with what they see as a lack of response by the UN authorities in Haiti and by recurrent stories of immanent violence on the part of the Haitian people which we fear may be used to justify violent intervention by both the UN and US forces against the Haitian people. Articles like Tim Padgett’s Will Criminal Gangs Take Control in Haiti’s Chaos and Mark Lander’s Clinton, in Visit to Haiti, Brings Aid and Promises Support‘ set the tone for this kind of ideological scare-mongering. Lander warns that As Haitian and international officials try to coordinate an effective relief response to what is probably the worst disaster to ever hit the western hemisphere’s poorest country, they’ll need to be mindful of the human rats that come out of the capital’s woodwork at times like these”.

He goes on to say that “unless the international community can exert some semblance of street-level law enforcement in the coming days and weeks, gangs are likely to lay down the law in its place”.

Outside the mainstream media reports from the ground tell a very different story, such as this one from Dave Belle, director of the Cine Instute there.

Regarding the historical politics of debt and aid in Haiti this article by Richard Kimin The Nation is one of the most thorough and informative, exposing precisely that ‘history’ which Bill Clinton, in his speech accepting the job of coordinating the US aid mission in Haiti, said that Haiti was on the verge of ‘escaping’.

Clinton’s complicity in UN Human Rights abuses in Haiti is discussed here.