PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Glimmers of hope are coming to this devastated capital and its surrounding cities, as the concrete Royal Oasis hotel rises over a metropolitan area still filled with displaced-persons camps housing hundreds of thousands. Signs of Haiti’s comeback can also be seen in the 105-room Best Western hotel being built within blocks of shanty-covered hillsides.
At least seven hotels are under construction or are in the planning stage in Port-au-Prince and its surrounding areas, raising hopes that thousands of investors will soon fill their air-conditioned rooms looking to build factories and tourist infrastructure that will help Haiti bounce back from a 2010 earthquake that officials say claimed 300,000 lives. Some damaged hotels are undergoing renovations.
Together, the projects add up to well over $100 million in new investment and will generate several thousand jobs in a nation still struggling to emerge from years of natural disasters and political turmoil.
In fact, the new hotels are the first significant private-sector construction in Port-au-Prince in the two years since the quake.
The 2012 Investment Forum will feature 30 speakers, almost all of whom are Haitians. They include Haitian entrepreneurs already creating jobs in Haiti, outgoing Prime Minister Garry Conille and the country’s new ambassador to the United States, Paul Altidor.
Organizers have also invited Laurent Lamothe, the country’s prime minister designate and current foreign minister, who has called on his ambassadors and consul generals to promote business diplomacy by promoting investment opportunities back home.
Business diplomacy, if utilized properly, could “lead to economic growth and job creation,” said Altidor, who served as vice president for programs and investment for the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund before being tapped for his new diplomatic role.
But equally as important as the economic growth and job creation is the conversation Haitians in the diaspora need to have among themselves about how to better engage in their homeland’s future, said Johnny Celestin, executive director of the Haitian Diaspora Federation. The federation has partnered with the Sustainatopia conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Founded by Fort Lauderdale consultant John Rosser, Sustainatopia celebrates global and social change while focusing on Haiti’s sustainability.
“A Wedding in Haiti” (Algonquin Books), by Julia Alvarez: Wedding invitations are meant to be joyous proclamations, but Julia Alvarez received one in 2009 that she had hoped would never come. A casual promise to attend a young employee’s wedding was suddenly, firmly, expected to be fulfilled, but doing so required a trip to Haiti, a place the Dominican-American writer never intended to explore.
“A Wedding in Haiti” is Alvarez’s account of how she reluctantly visited the other side of her parents’ homeland and found family connections in spite of language and circumstance.
The Dominican Republic shares the Caribbean island of Hispanola with Haiti, but Alvarez, known for exploring her heritage in her writing, including her novel “How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents,” never crossed the border until Piti’s wedding.
Apparently the international community has decided that Haitians are a diseased people. Otherwise what else could explain the recurring rounds of vaccination of the last five years and the insulting sight of MINUSTAH soldiers wearing gloves to avoid skin to skin contact with the population? The latest round of vaccinations, supposedly against cholera, an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, is perplexing to say the least. Although it has killed thousands of Haitians since its introduction in Haiti by a contingent of Nepalese soldiers, the disease is highly preventable and treatable according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health experts.
Eliminate bacteria-human contamination rather than inoculate prospective victims would be the right course of action. Prior to the UN occupation (2004-?), the disease was practically non-existent in Haiti, even though 2/3 of the population did not have access to clean water. Assuredly the population had developed some immunity against the bacterium Vibrio cholerae that causes cholera, until the arrival of the Nepalese. Therefore, as carriers of the deadly strain of cholera that caused the outbreak (2010-present), the Nepalese soldiers are the ones in need of inoculation not the prospective victims who are henceforth exposed to adverse reactions from the vaccine.
“I didn’t die because God wasn’t ready for me to die,” Martelly told Haitian radio host Alex Saint-Surin in a live broadcast Wednesday from North Miami Beach.
It was Martelly’s first public appearance since he arrived in Miami nine days ago seeking treatment for pain after shoulder surgery earlier this month. Martelly looked healthy but tired as he recounted his near-death experience that at one point had a team of six doctors in Haiti keeping vigil over him.
“I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t lay down, I couldn’t do anything,” Martelly said. “My stomach was compressed. It felt as if three people were pressing down on it.”
That was 2 a.m. on April 15, Martelly said. By the next afternoon, he was on a flight to Miami. He spent two days at the University of Miami Hospital. Dr. Reginald Pereira, who joined Martelly on the broadcast, said he’s awaiting additional tests before he allows the president to return to Haiti. Martelly has been recovering at a Miami hotel since leaving the hospital on April 18.
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — The U.S. government is looking into allegations that Dominican sugar growers use child labor and keep workers in slave-like conditions as a possible violation of a free trade agreement, officials said Tuesday.
A delegation from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Trade and Labor Affairs is in the Caribbean country to review the allegations made by the Rev. Christopher Hartley, a Roman Catholic priest and advocate for the rights of Dominican sugar workers.
The U.S. Embassy said the delegation will review his allegations and determine if there have been any violations of the labor provisions of a trade agreement that was signed in 2004 and eliminated tariffs between the U.S., the Dominican Republic and five countries in Central America.
The Office of Trade and Labor Affairs has 180 days to review and publicly report on the charges.
‘I AM HAITI’
‘I AM HAITI’
(SUBMIT YOUR VIDEO)
Our readers have taken an interest on our exciting weblog project, ‘I AM HAITI’. We had originally produced web clips of Jaffa Films staffers who are currently working on the feature documentary, ‘Blessed are the Meek’ and suggested they tell us about their love, and pride of their homeland, Haiti. However, we’d like to turn the lens on you, our supporters and share a select numbers of these videos in the feature documentary project, ‘Blessed are the Meek’. The winner of the ‘I AM HAITI’ video contest will be flown to Haiti in 2012 to record their personalized video.
The ‘I AM HAITI’ video contest hopes to present Haitians from all over the Diaspora who embody the love and humanity of Haiti. We’re excited to hear from you on topics as far reaching as childhood memories, family, community, Haitian culture and history, and Pre-Quake and Post Quake life. The Blessed team appreciates your participation in sharing, personal and honest accounts of being Haitian. Furthermore, we’ve also been inspired by the accounts from readers who told us that the disaster of 2010 presented a committed challenge for Haitians to rebuild their beloved country, by rebuilding their own lives. For many, it’s about reconnecting to one’s past and turning a terrible tragedy into personal triumph.
It’s really easy to contribute! You can create your video using YouTube or Vimeo and send the link/URL of the video to Iamhaiti@jaffafilms.org If you create your video using your laptop or mobile phone and have a video file, please attach the file in an email to Iamhaiti@jaffafilms.org.
Your video submission will be judged by a selection of Haitian scholars, artists, writers, and filmmakers. Selected video submissions will be featured on the film’s upcoming multi-media website and weblog. Please make sure to include your full name with your video submission. Each video should be 60-90 seconds long, and should feature only you, speaking right into the camera telling your story. Please start your story with the words “I Am Haiti…” We can’t wait to hear from you! And if you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Submission of ALL videos, ends Friday June 8th.
The Blessed Team.
‘Men Anpil Chay Pa Lou’ – Haitian Proverb
(Many hands lighten the load)
Restavek is not a common word for most Americans. In Haitian Creole, the word is translated loosely as “to live with.” I have been to Haiti 12 times over the last 10 years and through my knowledge, contacts and involvements with various organizations working there, I know the word well.
In Haiti, child slavery has been a cultural normality for many generations. A sign of affluence, having a helper for the family or even a personal “helper” for each of a family’s child is not uncommon.
In my many trips to the North Coast of Haiti, I have never really noticed the problem, thinking that it was mostly a problem of the larger cities, where the social elite tend to live. That was until I came face to face with one little girl who I believe was truly a Restevek.
Along racial lines, the minority population in majority-white Collier County is led by the black community, at about 7 percent. Asian and Native American-identified individuals follow, collectively accounting for less than 2 percent.
Because Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race, it is not listed as an option during the U.S. Census’s surveys on race.
There are several realities within the local black community, which includes the Haitian immigrant experience — around 2.5 percent of Collier’s population was born in Haiti — and the historically African-American population with roots in the area going back several generations.
That’s a big problem, but never more so than during a time of cholera.
Since cholera was introduced into Haiti 18 months ago – most likely by United Nations peacekeeping troops from Nepal, where the disease is endemic – more than a half-million people have gotten sick and at least 7,050 have died.
Public health authorities say cholera will stay in the environment for a long time, because Haiti has the worst sanitation in this hemisphere.