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The Fantastic Travelling Film Circus speaks with rapper and executive producer of “Sweet Micky for President” Pras Michel, founder of the Fugees, about his new movie on how he helped to inspire Haitian singer Michel Martelly to run for president of the world’s first Black republic, Haiti. We discuss Pras’ bandmate Wyclef entering the race, Aristide, the earthquake, the Clintons, Sean Penn and much more.
Five years ago, after the catastrophic Haiti earthquake, the international community – a self-defined “Core Group” under the leadership of former President Bill Clinton – took over Haiti recovery and reconstruction and announced they would “build Haiti back better.” But this was a euphemism for land grabbing, privatization, occupation and imperial plunder. Black lives don’t matter in the United States, much less in Haiti.
The U.N. estimated international donors gave Haiti over $1.6 billion in relief aid since the earthquake – about $155 per Haitian – and over $2 billion in recovery aid – about $173 per Haitian – over the last two years. Yet Haiti looks like the earthquake happened two months ago, not two years.
One year after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, more than a million people remain homeless in Haiti. People are living under plastic tarps or sheets in concrete parks, up to the edge of major streets, in the side streets, on the sides of hills, literally everywhere. One year later, it is critically important for the international community to assist Haitians to secure real housing. The million homeless Haitians are our sisters and brothers and still need our solidarity and help.
There is no food. The children are terribly hungry. The food aid program was terminated in April and nothing took its place. The authorities cut off the food so people would leave the camps, but where is there to go? Not a single cent of the U.S. aid pledged for rebuilding has arrived in Haiti. Don’t miss Randall Robinson discussing ‘An Unbroken Agony’ with Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee and Walter Turner of KPFA’s Africa Today on Saturday, Oct. 16, 5 p.m., Black Repertory Theater, 3201 Adeline St., Berkeley.
There was high unemployment for Haitians, those educated with skills and the unskilled as well, prior to the earthquake. For a government official to tell a BAI representative that withholding food was a way to motivate lazy people looking for a handout to get to work is a gross misread of the problem.
I just got off the phone with Leslie, a friend and leader in Asanble Vwazen Solino (the Solino Neighborhood Assembly). Knowing the answer, he asked me: “Is it raining over where you are?” “Of course it is. But you know I have a house.” “We are all wet!” he intoned. “We won’t get to sleep tonight.”
Two things we know for sure: Hollywood and hip hop get media attention. And for Haiti, that translates into big media hype for actor Sean Penn and rapper-turned-presidential candidate, Wyclef Jean. How may we use this media glare to help the 2 million Haitians made homeless by the earthquake?
I am excited about going back to Haiti, which I visited at the four-month anniversary of the earthquake. It has been six months now and from what we have heard and seen from trusted media, the situation is not any better and for many people it is worse.
There is a growing discontent amongst the people in Haiti with the political establishment under the direction of President Rene Preval. Many people believe that Preval has mortgaged the nation to powerful multinational corporate interests and subjected the people to military occupation by the U.S. and the U.N. under the guise of providing “security.”
“The Cannes International Film Festival provides a larger opportunity for African Americans to bring their stories to the world marketplace expanding beyond the 500 or so theaters. In my experience, contrary to what we are told in the U.S., the world is ready to hear our stories of insiders, outsiders, the oppressed and the powerful.” - John Michael Reefer, film producer and director
July brings to mind many historic events, such as Frederick Douglass’ speech at an event July 5, 1852, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity ..."
“We are living in the mud. We are wet and we are hungry. Those in charge have left us without hope. If they have a plan, we do not know it. We are asking about the future. And we want our voices to be heard.” Each Saturday a thousand or more Haitian earthquake survivors meet in the auditorium of the Aristide Foundation for Democracy to talk about the future of their country.
When the Aristide Foundation for Democracy launched our mobile school project in late February we wanted to do two things quickly: support children living in refugee camps across Port au Prince and offer immediate employment to young Haitians at a time when the whole economy has collapsed.
Rea Dol and Dodo were at the airport with a sign with my name when I arrived. We then headed to the building site, where a wall is going up around the perimeter. Rea is the principal of SOPUDEP School in Port au Prince, founded as part of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s National Literacy Project. She’s building a new school to replace the one that was damaged in the earthquake.
On May 18, 1803, 207 years ago, the Congress of Arcahaie adopted the Haitian flag. Gen. Jean-Jacques Dessalines created it by ripping the white from the center of the French flag and uniting the red and the blue. Celebrate Haiti's Flag Day with exciting Haitian dancers and drummers and Wanda's account of her journey there.
We lost the great Lena Horne this month on Mother’s Day, May 9. She was 92, her birthday June 17, 1917 – her funeral Friday, May 14. I found out recently that Ms. Horne was at the March on Washington with sisters Mahalia Jackson and Dorothy Height.
The champagne bottles were popping at the U.N. for the pledging session’s success – $5 billion, $10 billion pledged for the future. Whose future? What Haitians in Haiti need is a hoe, a tractor, some lifting equipment, so they might not have to use their bare hands to dig out the corpses still under the rubble over three months after the earthquake. Just a hoe, a tractor – we’ll do the work.
Not since the levees exploded in New Orleans and caused the devastation attributed to Hurricane Katrina have the people of the U.S. been so committed to relieving the suffering of Black people. So how is all this money being spent?
Many survivors of Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and the U.S. Gulf Coast in August 2005, have been seeing their own reflection in media images of Haiti earthquake victims and feel personally driven to help organize assistance for the people of Haiti.