Here’s a round-up of some of odds and ends that I haven’t gotten around to posting until now.
First, there’s this piece for Haiti Liberte: WikiLeaks Reveal: Expecting Civilian Deaths, US Embassy Approved of Deadly Attack on Crowded Haitian Slum. The article describes how a top Embassy official agreed with private sector leaders like Reginald Boulos, who now holds influence over Haiti’s reconstruction, that MINUSTAH should attack Cite Soleil knowing full well that innocent Haitians would be killed by the “peacekeepers” during the operation.
For more on the Port Salut abuses, there are these interviews I did with Democracy Now!, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and if you speak Spanish, this Uruguayan media outlet. The five soldiers accused of abusing Johnny Jean in the video are reported to have been jailed in Uruguay pending sentencing. 17-year-old Rose Mina Joseph, who was pregnant with a Uruguayan soldier’s child when this was published, gave birth to a healthy boy a few days ago. She told me yesterday she hasn’t been able to reach the father in Uruguay to tell him yet, but that when they last talked he said he’d seen an article about her.
Amnesty International issued an action alert that you can participate in about the eviction threat to Camp Mosaic, which I reported on a few weeks ago. And this interview with Dr. Renaud Piarroux about cholera and its origins in Haiti is well worth reading.
Finally, I’d like to shout out this heartfelt and insightful reflection from Sebastian Walker, Al Jazeera’s post-quake Haiti correspondent (check out his new film, produced in part by Haitian journalist Yvon Vilius), especially this part: “I would have liked to stay in Haiti forever. If you spend any significant time there, you will believe, as I did, that Haiti deserves to be on the front page of every newspaper, every single day. It is a permanent, urgent and unjustified humanitarian tragedy.”
I feel the same way. To me, it’s not just the humanitarian tragedy that makes Haiti worthy of front page coverage every day, but the extraordinary way that tragedy is politically and internationally maintained. There are stark political choices (some examples) that keep Haiti mired in this state which implicate a wide range of powerful groups in Haiti and across the globe. Sebastian’s team did a great job of exposing many of them while listening to and projecting the voices of ordinary Haitians.
This contrasts with some recently sloppy reporting by the Associated Press. An anti-MINUSTAH protest march last Wednesday was completely peaceful from the start, when it was confronted by MINUSTAH soldiers in a jeep, very nearly until it reached its destination in Chanmas. When the march arrived near the palace, Haitian police immediately began launching tear gas canisters, to which the protesters responded by throwing rocks. This can be observed in a video I produced.
The Associated Press team was not present at that time, to my knowledge. I saw them walking down towards the protests hours later, after many of the demonstrators had left and only a small band of rock-throwers remained. But the AP wrote that protesters had “fled into” the camps in Chanmas (they may have since improved the language from the original article), which I did not observe (one resident of the tent camp told me he did not blame the protesters for the tear gas). The AP did not even mention the peaceful march. And today, another AP article reduces all recent anti-UN protests in Haiti to “rock-throwing.” I already pointed out some serious flaws in their initial reporting on the Port Salut abuses.
They should do better. Update: One of the AP’s photographers may have been present as the march itself reached Chanmas.