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Factories closed in Haiti industrial park after protest

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By David McFadden, Associated Press, May 24, 2017

Factories making T-shirts, pants and other apparel in an industrial park in Haiti's capital were closed on Monday, three days since thousands of garment workers took to the streets demanding pay increases.

Industrialists and government officials met in the Port-au-Prince park, where a police presence was heavy and the dozen assembly factories were empty. Roughly 18,000 workers are employed in the factories.

Garment workers say their wages are not enough to support their families amid a depreciating currency and a rising cost of living. A Friday protest which first shuttered the factories occurred days after a significant increase in the price of gasoline.

Workers are demanding 800 Haitian gourdes per eight-hour work day. Based on current exchange rates, that's roughly $12.47 per day. They now earn 300 gourdes, or $4.67. "It's gotten to the point where I can't take care of my son. I don't see any future like this," said Esperancia Mernavil, a garment worker who belongs to the Gosttra union.

Paltry six month renewal of Haitians’ TPS suggests it may be the last

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By Steve Forester, Haiti Liberté, May 24, 2017

On May 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for some 50,000 Haitians living in the United States for only six months rather than the usual, appropriate 18 months.

The wording of DHS Secretary John F. Kelly’s announcement sent very mixed signals and omitted extremely significant facts. It stressed that this is likely the last extension and that TPS holders should “attain travel documents” for return to Haiti. Very inaccurately, it also asserted that conditions in Haiti have greatly improved.

DHS's announcement ignores the vast destruction last October of Hurricane Matthew – the worst to hit Haiti in 52 years – and the unchecked cholera epidemic which has killed and sickened at least 9,500 and 800,000 respectively. Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti’s bread basket, exacerbating the current food insecurity crisis, and spiked cholera cases too.

‘Ignored’ hunger crisis unfolds in post-hurricane Haiti

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By Lisa Nikolau, Humanosphere.org, May 23, 2017

Health experts say the international community has turned a blind eye to widespread food insecurity in Haiti, where communities across nearly every region of the island are approaching risk of famine.

In March, a report from the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that of the 2.1 million Haitians affected by the hurricane last October, 1.4 million still don’t have enough food or safe drinking water.

More recently, statistics from the European Commission indicated that eight out of Haiti’s 10 departments have reached “crisis” levels of food insecurity. The EU institution said that three of those regions would likely be in a state of emergency or famine had they not received humanitarian assistance.

According to health experts from the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation, one of several in-country actors locating and treating people suffering from malnutrition, the food insecurity crisis has received little attention from international policymakers and organizations.

Labour and civil society coalition slams Canada’s Venezuela policy

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By Levon Sevunts, Radio-Canada International, May 20, 2017

A Canadian coalition of labour groups and civil society activists is calling on the federal government to rethink its policy towards the deepening crisis in Venezuela and stop supporting radical elements of the opposition who have vowed to overthrow the Socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Raul Burbano, the program director of Common Frontiers, a left-wing umbrella group that opposes the neo-liberal model of economic development and integration in the Americas, says Canada needs to play a more even-handed role in trying to resolve the political impasse in Venezuela.

“Canada has predominantly talked a lot about human rights, labour rights on the global scale and that’s the way it sort of presents itself,” said Burbano. “Unfortunately, the reality we see in Latin America – it could be Venezuela, Colombia, Honduras – Canada has been pretty much preoccupied with its economic interests, much of that extractive industries.”

Canada's mess in the Carribean

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By Yves Engler, rabble.ca, May 19, 2017

A recent photo in French daily Liberation hints at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce’s role in facilitating tax avoidance, which is partly an outgrowth of Canadian banking prowess in the Caribbean and Ottawa’s role in shaping the region’s unsavoury financial sector.

Just before the second round of the French presidential election documents were leaked purporting to show that Emmanuel Macron set up a company in a Caribbean tax haven. The president-elect’s firm is alleged to have had dealings with CIBC FirstCaribbean, a subsidiary of Canada’s fifth biggest bank.

While Macron denies setting up an offshore firm and contests the veracity of the documents, this is immaterial to the broader point. If the documents are a fraudulent political attack, those responsible chose CIBC First Caribbean because it is a major player in the region and has been linked to various tax avoidance schemes.

CIBC registered 632 companies and private foundations in the tax haven of the Bahamas between 1990 and May 2016, according to documents released in the Panama Papers. CIBC was named 1,347 times in a cache of leaked files concerning secret tax havens released by the Consortium of Investigative Journalists in 2013.

The real crimes of Guy Philippe Part 3

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By Jeb Sprague, Haiti Liberté, May 17, 2017

Selections from “Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti” 

 

This series’ first two parts detailed the 2000 coup attempt by paramilitary leader Guy Philippe’s clique of police officers – the “Ecuadorians” – and their flight to the Dominican Republic, where they built the Front pour la Libération et la Reconstruction Nationales (FLRN) with the help of Dominican authorities. The FLRN’s goal was the overthrow of the elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

 This third and final installment takes excerpts from Chapters 4, 5, and 6, which layout the crimes committed during the FLRN’s war against Haiti’s democracy from 2001 to 2004. We have put killings and other crimes in bold. We have also removed footnotes due to space restraints of our print edition.

Water for profit: Haiti’s thirsty season

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By Dady Chery, New Junkie Post, May 9, 2017

There is no shortage of water in Haiti. Yet, everywhere on the island, Haitians travel for miles to get water, pay dearly for it if they can find it, and sometimes die on their journey to collect it, like so many antelopes snatched by predators on their way to drink.

 How does a thing like that happen in a country that gets reliably drenched with more than 50 inches (130 cm) of naturally distilled rainwater per year? Haiti is blessed with two rainy seasons: April to May, and August to October, but even during the driest months of December to February, the country gets about 1.5 inches per month. The Artibonite River alone carries more than 26,000 gallons (100 cubic meters) of fresh water per second! Another 13,000 gallons per second flow through nine other rivers that crisscross the mountainous landscape. As if that were not enough, Haitians also sit on about 15 trillion gallons of groundwater.