Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Other Worlds

Other Worlds is an economic justice group that supports economic and social alternatives around the world.

June 8th, 2010 2:17 PM

What Would "Another Haiti" Look Like?

Haitian Views on Their Country's Future

Written with Laura Wagner

A slogan of Haiti’s popular movement – a grouping of many organized sectors, from community-based journalists, to cooperative street vendors, to children’s rights advocates – is ‘Another Haiti Is Possible.’ Most Haitians we speak with, whatever their sector or political persuasion, have very clear ideas of what a different Haiti could look like and what would be required for its construction. Here are some of those ideas.

Jean Jores Pierre is student of economics at the State University of Haiti and an intern at a policy advocacy organization. An orphan, when Jores’ home collapsed in the earthquake, he began sleeping in a tent in the yard outside the office of his organization. He is now living with relatives in Port-au-Prince.

The catastrophe of January 12 showed clearly how poorly the country has been managed. At the core of the problem has been the complete exclusion of those who have always dreamed of a Haiti which is based on solidarity between people. We’re talking about all those who have decided to fight to change the conditions of their lives and their compatriots’ lives.

Today, to get past the problems, we have to envision another Haiti, based on the participation of everyone, where women, peasants, and marginalized people have a place in society. Where solidarity serves as the basis of all national decisions. A sovereign Haiti that can take its destiny in hand, with a clear perspective of how to raise up all Haitians without distinction.

Rosnel Jean-Baptiste is a member of the national coordinating committee of Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen (Heads Together Small Haitian Peasants), a national organization of agricultural workers. He goes back and forth between his home in the countryside and the organization’s headquarters in Port-au-Prince.

We have to deconstruct the capital by supporting agriculture in the countryside and doing land reform, so that people have land to work and can live there. We have to bring services to the countryside, too, not just have a government representative in each rural section, like we do now.

Re-envisioning Haiti… it’s not houses which will rebuild Haiti, it’s investing in the agricultural sector. If the country doesn’t produce, our farmers won’t be able to survive. And we’ll always have to depend on others.

But if the government hasn’t been able to do anything after [the earthquake of] January 12 to resolve the problems, I don’t think they’ll do it for us now. It’s up to us, social movements, to unite ourselves to change the situation of this country and to change the model our state.

Jacqueline Cherilus is 22 and a fourth-year medical student at Université Lumière in Port-au-Prince. On January 12, her school collapsed, killing many of her professors and classmates. By sheer luck, she wasn’t there. Her own home did not collapse, but it was damaged. Now, she and her family are afraid to go inside, so they sleep under a bright-blue tarp instead. Her university has since re-opened in a new location, and every day, she and her surviving classmates spend money and hours taking several buses across town. But, the professors haven’t shown up yet.

You’ve asked the wrong person. I’m not a political person, I don’t know a lot about these things. If you want me to think like a good Haitian patriot, then I’d say we need social change. Social change that can bring about political change. We need a revolution in the political milieu. I don’t mean an armed revolution or anything like that, but we need to demand what we really need. Life is too expensive; we need to bring prices down. Everyone should have access to what they need.

It’s the people first who can bring about change. They can make demands of the government, so the government can put pressure on the international community.

Yannick Etienne has been a labor rights organizer with the grassroots group Workers’ Struggle (Batay Ouvriyè) for many years. She speaks perfect English, having attended university in the U.S. in the late 1960s, where she also engaged herself in the anti-Vietnam war and Black power movements. She moves a lot around industrial zones in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere.

In re-building Haiti, the people are not being consulted. Yet, they have lots of ideas about what they don’t like and what kind of Haiti they would love. They say, “We would like it to be totally different.” We have to change social relations, change exploitation, change rural environmental degradation, change the control by the big land owners and the capitalist class, all those involved in import-export commerce. Those people have been ruling the country, and look what’s happened to it.

We need workers’ rights and social support in the factories, and workers have to be able to determine the environment they want to work in. We need to get rid of peasants working on halves [sharecropping where the farmer gives half of his produce to the landowner]. We have to have land reform. It’s very important to make sure that small peasant get land to work and get the technical assistance they need. We have to offer peasants alternatives in the rural areas and the cities, so they don’t have to cut trees to make charcoal.

People are saying, “If we don’t organize ourselves, these camps could become permanent places to stay.” We know that provisional things in Haiti always become permanent. People have to mobilize to make sure they build real homes, dignified places.

We have to know what we’re fighting for. The earthquake gives us an opportunity as a movement, to continue our organizing, to push for social justice, and to unify the people to take change into their own hands.

Nixon Boumba is an organizer with the Democratic Popular Movement (MODEP by its Creole acronym) and with students at the School of Social Sciences at the State University of Haiti. He prefers to be called Boumba, because of the political associations with his first name.

This wasn’t a natural catastrophe, but a social catastrophe. It just reproduced the pre-existent castastrophe, with so much exclusion and exploitation, where you have the “country inside” and the “country outside” [as Port-au-Prince and the rural areas are known], where you have [differential power for] men and women. We propose more egalitarian relations.

We propose a rupture with the crumbling state, instead leading to a state that’s at the service of the people. The rupture must first be with dependence, which has been reinforced since January 12, with the imperialists who are further militarizing the country.

We want the school system to be nationalized. We want the government to dedicate money to take the school system in hand and consecrate schools to the service of the public.

We think that the state has to provide housing. We’re in favor of cooperative housing, to give people decent housing at an affordable price. We talk about ‘villages of life’, with a whole plan administered by the state. Maybe you don’t have a hospital in each village, but at least you have health center, so kids can get health care. You create schools, so that no child lacks an education. You have professional centers, recreation centers for youth, in these villages of life. We’re working out the details now.

We need another country, where everyone has the chance to live as a human being, where nothing is reconstructed the way it was prior to January 12.

Yves-Rose Jean-Juste is 22. Her mother, who worked as a live-in servant in a middle-class household, died on January 12. Her mother worked hard to create a better life for her only daughter, despite never learning to read or write. Yves-Rose now lives in her uncle’s modest home in Delmas, where she sweeps the floor, cooks meals over charcoal, fetches buckets of water, and waits for the U.S. Embassy to tell her if her application for a visa (to join her father) has been processed. On Sundays, she dresses up and goes to the Kingdom Hall to pray.

This country didn’t offer people anything in the first place, and it’s become even worse after the earthquake. Many things in the country are broken, and perhaps those people who could have helped the country realize its goals lost their lives in the earthquake.

When you look at all these disasters, we have to ask ourselves: Where is the world going? Is the world going to end soon? There is only one person who knows the answers: Jesus.

I would like the government to concern itself and take responsibility for reconstructing the country, offer young people more means to live, and take kids off the streets. For our country to be beautiful, for tourists to come visit and invest in our country. For us not to die in boats trying to seek life in other countries. But, for now, all of this is just a dream.


You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law Donna Smith Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? Donna Smith We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa Nick Turse Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch Donna Smith The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Ukraine: One ‘Regime Change’ Too Many? Ray McGovern Is “regime change” in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative...

Mar 2nd
9:25 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles