De temps en temps, des rafales d’armes automatiques traversent le silence de la nuit et viennent rappeler que nous sommes en guerre. Civile, de basse intensité certes, mais c’est la guerre. Le temps des pénuries, des réserves dans des bidons et des urgences médicales non satisfaites parce que les routes sont coupées et le risque très grand de recevoir un plomb si on s’aventure sans précaution dans les rues. L’électricité est rare, et l’eau, il y a longtemps qu’elle n’est plus qu’un fantasme au robinet devenu dans toutes les maisons un objet d’art pour antiquaires. Tout le monde boit de l’eau en bidon, ou en sachet.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tatiana Fernández The border gate on the bridge between Ouanaminthe, Haiti, and Dajabón, Dominican Republic

Women and men press against the barbed-wire gate, waiting for the guards to let them in. Twice a week, the border crossing opens so that Haitians can get access without a visa to a market located on Dominican land in the northern city of Dajabón, just a short walk from the crossing point.

Behind the crowd at the gate, a loud procession is making its way along the Massacre River (so named for the 1728 killing of a group of French buccaneers by Spanish settlers) that separates Haiti and the Dominican Republic before crossing a short bridge that connects the two countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

In April 2017, the UN Security Council approved resolution 2350, which simultaneously determined the end of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the establishment of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH). While the conclusion of the Mission in Haiti took place together with the ending of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Haiti was the only country to receive a replacement mission. Its tasks were to consolidate the justice and human rights system and complete the creation of a local police force. Surprisingly, the Security Council (SC) framed the mandate of the new mission under chapter VII of the UN Charter, a de facto postponement of Haitian sovereignty for two more years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Salvadorans protested against mining outside the Legislative Assembly in San Salvador in 2017. El Salvador’s Congress recently approved a law that prohibits mining for metals, on the grounds that it is an industry that creates negative impacts on the environment and on people’s health.CreditMarvin Recinos/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

After the 2010 earthquake killed more than 200,000 people and displaced more than a million, the government of Haiti identified mining for gold and other metals as necessary to strengthen the economy.

To that end, the government and the World Bank worked to revise the country’s mining law to attract foreign investment. Their draft law, which was presented to Parliament last July and is awaiting consideration, did not include input from Haitian environmental and human rights organizations.

The lack of transparency surrounding the proposed new mining law raises significant concerns about whose interests would be represented under the revamped legal framework.…  Seguir leyendo »

Haitians on the Grand Rue in Port-au-Prince in November. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

When I was growing up in Gonaives, Haiti, we didn’t have a toilet. We had a latrine, an outhouse in the back of our yard where we went to the bathroom. A literal “shithole.”

By Western standards of modernity, you could say the same of Haiti. Our roads aren’t great. Our politicians are corrupt. The late dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, a.k.a. Baby Doc, stole hundreds of millions. His wedding famously cost $2 million. That was a lot of money in 1980. Today, the average Haitian lives on less than $2 a day.

I’ve witnessed extreme acts of violence in Haiti. But I’ve also encountered the most decent people I’ve ever met.…  Seguir leyendo »

No, President Trump, we Haitians don’t all have AIDS

Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign featured a persistent attack on immigrants. So as a Haitian immigrant, I was surprised when candidate Trump praised our values and work ethic and declared to a crowd of Haitian Americans in Miami’s Little Haiti, “I really want to be your greatest champion.”

Apparently, Trump’s public declaration of love for Haitians — conveniently stated at an anti-Hillary Clinton rally — was contradicted by his private beliefs. The New York Times recently reported that he allegedly fumed at a Cabinet meeting on immigration in June that Haitians “all have AIDS.” (He also reportedly claimed that Nigerians would never go “back to their huts.”)

Even though the White House has disputed the report, it’s clearly not a great stretch to think that he did say such things.…  Seguir leyendo »

Our Country Deserves Your Respect, Not Your Pity

Once again, Haiti, a country with deep historical ties to the United States, is in the news. Once again, a negative narrative permeates the public dialogue and Haitian people are compelled to defend our humanity. Once again, the circumstances require us to wage a battle on two fronts: tackling the physical rebuilding of our nation so that future generations can prosper, while simultaneously combating prejudice and stigma that risk being, over time, institutionalized in the American consciousness.

Over the Christmas weekend, Haiti found itself the subject in a public spat between two major American institutions, the White House and The New York Times, over some comments the president allegedly made regarding Haitians and the AIDS epidemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

La determinación de prioridades en materia de gasto es difícil en cualquier país; pero lo es mucho más en Haití, donde tras años de enfrentamientos políticos, un gobierno recién electo está luchando por hacer crecer la economía y mejorar el bienestar de la población, mientras confronta las consecuencias aún no resueltas del tremendo terremoto de 2010.

Todos los gobiernos tienen limitaciones de fondos; pero el presupuesto anual del gobierno haitiano es apenas dos mil millones de dólares (más otros mil millones aportados por donantes extranjeros). Para poner esa cifra en contexto, señalemos que dos países con poblaciones de tamaño similar, la República Checa y Suecia, tienen un presupuesto anual de 74 000 millones de dólares y 250 000 millones de dólares, respectivamente.…  Seguir leyendo »

March is the month of “La Francophonie”. It is an opportunity for all the countries that share the French language, including Canada, France and Haiti, to celebrate this great family.

We belong to one of the largest linguistic communities in the world. Today, French is spoken by more than 274 million people on all continents. This number is expected to reach 700 million by 2050. French is the second most learned foreign language in the world, after English.

French is a great language of communication. It is the fourth most common language used on the internet. Four international radio stations and six international television stations broadcast in French, reaching 243 million households.…  Seguir leyendo »

I vividly remember walking out of a Boston movie theater at the age of 14 feeling that my Haitianness, my blackness, and my faith had been assaulted.

I laughed uncomfortably as we re-enacted scenes from «The Serpent and the Rainbow,» Wes Craven’s 1988 horror film set in Haiti, which reached cult status within the genre.

«I want to hear you scream,» hollered my friend in a fake Haitian accent. «Don’t let them bury me, I’m not dead» was my response, mimicking the macabre gestures of a zombie.

After sitting for 90 minutes enthralled yet embarrassed, confused but entertained, there I was, a young Haitian-American, who, as the intellectual Frantz Fanon once articulated, felt the «weight of his melanin.»

«The Serpent and the Rainbow» was the first time I saw Haiti and Vodou on the big screen.…  Seguir leyendo »

A United States federal court has blocked President Donald Trump’s January 27 executive order barring citizens from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the US, but the impacts of the travel ban are already being felt at the nation’s borders.

The suspended order halts general refugee admissions for 120 days and Syrian admissions until further notice and puts a limit of 50,000 admissions per year, down from 150,000. It also imposes major legal hurdles for those processing asylum applications.

Along with the Trump administration’s proposed wall along the US-Mexico border, this situation has dealt a historic blow not just to Muslim immigrants but to the American asylum and refugee system in general – including to the more than 30,000 asylum seekers and migrants now trapped in Tijuana, Mexico, just a few miles from San Diego, California.…  Seguir leyendo »

La semana pasada, en un discurso ante la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas describí un nuevo enfoque para hacer frente al cólera en Haití, una enfermedad que ha afectado a casi 800.000 personas y se ha cobrado la vida de más de 9.000 haitianos en los últimos seis años. Esta tragedia ha ensombrecido la relación entre las Naciones Unidas y el pueblo de Haití. Es una mancha en la reputación de las operaciones de mantenimiento de la paz de las Naciones Unidas y de la Organización en todo el mundo.

Comencé mi discurso ante la Asamblea General con un mensaje al pueblo haitiano:

Las Naciones Unidas expresan su hondo pesar ante la pérdida de vidas y el sufrimiento causados por el brote de cólera en Haití.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week, I addressed the U.N. General Assembly to outline a new approach to tackle cholera in Haiti — a disease that has afflicted nearly 800,000 people and claimed the lives of more than 9,000 Haitians over the last six years.

This tragedy has cast a shadow upon the relationship between the U.N. and the people of Haiti. It is a blemish on the reputation of U.N. peacekeeping and the organization world-wide.

I began my speech to the General Assembly with a message to the Haitian people:

The United Nations deeply regrets the loss of life and suffering caused by the cholera outbreak in Haiti.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hurricane Matthew devastated much of Haiti. The storm killed more than 800 people and leveled entire communities. Those who have visited have described scenes reminiscent of when the earthquake hit the island in 2010. There are food shortages, and a cholera epidemic has reached an alarming level. The World Health Organization has sent 1 million doses of cholera vaccine in response. The Haitian Ministry of Health was to begin a mass vaccination program last week.

It will take time to recover from this latest disaster. Then Haitians and the international community will once again embark on a rebuilding program.

After the 2010 earthquake destroyed much of Haiti’s urban society, the international community committed more than $1 billion to a rebuilding effort that was intended to set Haiti on the path toward sustainable development.…  Seguir leyendo »

Haiti faces yet another humanitarian crisis, this time after Hurricane Matthew has left more than 175,000 Haitians without homes and 1.4 million in need of disaster relief assistance.

The small island-nation has had more than its share of natural disasters: Less than six years ago, it was devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

Aid organizations providing humanitarian assistance in Haiti today should heed the lessons learned from the earthquake response in 2010. This includes addressing the critical needs of vulnerable populations, especially women, who are disproportionately affected and increasingly vulnerable after natural disasters.

Haiti was thrown into chaos in January 2010 when an earthquake struck, killing over 220,000 people and shattering infrastructure.…  Seguir leyendo »

With the number of suspected cases of cholera in Haiti now in the hundreds, the race is on to try to prevent further death and devastation following Hurricane Matthew.

With one million doses of cholera vaccine due to arrive this week, the hope is that we can prevent a repeat of the horrific outbreak in 2010 that infected nearly 800,000 Haitians, killing more than 9,000 people. But, even if we are successful in Haiti, the fact is for a highly preventable disease like cholera, vaccine stockpiles while certainly helpful cannot be a long-term solution.

Ten million people live in Haiti alone, and yet fewer than 6 million doses of cholera vaccine are currently produced each year, to maintain a global emergency stockpile of 2.2 million, with two doses recommended per person.…  Seguir leyendo »

I’ve come to dread writing about my native Haiti. It seems that when I sit at my desk and tackle the subject, my fingers are writing about yet another disaster. This time it’s the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, with a death toll in the hundreds and tens of thousands left homeless. The United Nations is appealing for $120 million to address the devastation that has hit a poor island nation that seems to have neither the capacity nor the luck to avoid catastrophe.

In 2010, it was the devastating earthquake that took an estimated 300,000 lives; a couple of years later it was the cholera epidemic, a disease unknown in Haiti until inadvertently introduced by U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »

Flying over the mountains into Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a few years ago, I sat next to a volunteer taking her first trip to the country. “I see trees,” she said, pointing down at the hillsides. “They told us there are no trees.”

Foreign descriptions of the country frequently claim it is almost completely deforested; people often reference a striking 1987 National Geographic photograph of the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, forested on one side and barren on the other, as proof. In the common imagination, Haitians literally devour their forests; last week a meteorologist in Florida, describing the impact of Hurricane Matthew, said, “Even the kids there, they are so hungry they actually eat the trees.”

In fact, about a third of Haiti is covered in trees, and many areas with little forestation have always been that way.…  Seguir leyendo »

Haiti, which is still in the midst of a slow and painful rebuilding process in the aftermath of 2010’s historic earthquake, has experienced more heartbreak this week with the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. But sadly, for the Haitian people, the initial damage wreaked by environmental disaster has traditionally become a prelude to the disappointment of promises of international aid and relief, especially those sponsored by the U.S.

The Category 4 hurricane touched down on Haiti’s southern shore on Tuesday, leaving hundreds dead in its wake and decimating the country’s already fragile communications infrastructure. The damage to Haiti’s southern peninsula is the latest setback in a series of environmental disasters that have gripped the country recently.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cholera patients received treatment at the St. Nicholas Hospital in St.-Marc, in 2010. Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press

Marseille, France In late 2010, the Haitian government asked me to investigate a cholera outbreak that struck that autumn following the arrival of a United Nations peacekeeping unit. It quickly became evident that some of the peacekeepers, who had been rotating through Haiti as part of a mission started in 2004 to provide security and stability, had introduced cholera from Nepal, where the disease had been flourishing.

By scrutinizing the most affected areas and using maps to trace the disease, I demonstrated how the epidemic originated with the peacekeepers. I published my findings in a July 2011 article, and an independent scientific team confirmed my conclusions within a few months.…  Seguir leyendo »