Mission of social movements and networks to Haiti, January 2010
A delegation of 15 representatives of Dominican grassroots organisations, networks and international organisations went to Port-au-Prince from 21st – 23rd January, contacting and supporting civil society organisations and grassroots leaders in Haiti in the initiatives that they have been taking forward in the current situation following the earthquake, from ‘people to people’
By Pedro Franco, IAI
Message of the Haitian organisations:
“During the first three days of the earthquake we found that the population was able to organise without resources and in the midst of the most dramatic desolation, assisting the wounded, organising camps and the provision of the most basic things like water, medicine and food. Without the occurrence of any acts of violence, the people organised and assisted over half a million affected people. (…) For those of us who live both in the cities and in rural areas, it is the first time that we have seen a disaster of this magnitude. No measures were taken despite the fact that an impending disaster had been announced; had there been the slightest amount of planning and awareness-raising we could have avoided such an enormous loss of human life.
The population is traumatised and thousands and thousands of people have died since Tuesday the 12th of January. It is a national catastrophe, as almost every family has a family member living in the capital. It has also affected the rural population with the collapse of houses, for example in the Southeast (Jacmel); Croix des Bouquets; Kenscoff; Arcahaie; la Ferriere (Plateau Central); Sarazin (Mirbalais). The population is living in fear of both staying outdoors and staying in the houses; they are out in the open with their families, without tents and left with nothing, waiting for help without knowing when it will arrive, despite the fact that aid is announced and promoted internationally. (…)
The capital is a city meant to house 250,000 people, not 2 million… there is only one university, which is also based in Port-au-Prince where the major damage occurred. There are enormous psychological challenges, large numbers of people of all ages who are on the streets, traumatised after having lost their family members and possessions. (…)
On top of all of this, following the disaster, the Americans have taken advantage of the situation to bring in troops and occupy strategic points, which we see as an affront to the sovereignty of this country. (…)
The displacement of people to the provinces is increasing the levels of poverty that already existed. (…)
The urgency and the distribution of aid is concentrated primarily in the capital city, despite the fact that the population, until now, has received almost nothing, and in the plan of operations the provinces have been forgotten. (…)
It is very important to address this emergency at national level, and formulate a strategic plan for participatory reconstruction in a process of debate and dialogue… We are currently in the phase of emergency humanitarian assistance and will soon move to the phase of reconstruction and consolidation. It is possible that two different perspectives will clash: that of the governments and many international institutions, for a reconstruction process that favours real estate speculation, and an alternative grassroots vision for participatory reconstruction, without external debt. (…)”
From ‘people to people’
Our mission made contact with the initiative carried out by PAPDA and six other organisations in the aftermath of the earthquake and contributed towards bringing together a significant number of grassroots organisations in Haiti, providing an emergency generator, logistical items and minimal resources for its operation, contributing towards the consolidation of the post-earthquake initiative started by the Haitian Platform for Alternative Development (PAPDA) and the six organisations, now with the addition of the Papay Farmers’ Movement (MPP), TETKOLE, and more than 20 additional organisations. They now conform a Coordination body for emergency and participatory reconstruction, which also comprises various sectors (NGOs, rural people’s organisations, trade unions, youth and women’s groups, human rights organisations and neighbourhood associations, among others), with an office as a joint centre of operation, and two health centres to attend the affected population.
The mission allowed an objective assessment to be made as to the magnitude of the catastrophe, the ‘invisibility’ of the so-called ‘humanitarian assistance’, as well as the fears that the ‘reconstruction’ will either become a project driven by real estate speculation, in a way that will take Haiti even more into debt, or that, in the end, it will remain on paper, as has been the case so far with the aid that has been announced by the governments of the global North and the international community, whilst national dignity and sovereignty are not respected.
Strong links were established between the Haitian organisations, the Dominican organisations and the international networks to channel the solidarity from ‘people to people’.
The mission included the international networks International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI), Via Campesina, Jubileo Sur, Grito de los Excluidos, Asamblea de los Pueblos del Caribe and Veterinarians without Borders; Dominican organisations Campaña de Solidaridad con Cuba, Unidad del Pueblo, Comité de Solidaridad con Haiti Nuevo Amanecer, Zero Evictions Campaign, Confederación de Mujeres Campesinas, CONAMUCA, Cooperativa de Vivienda (COOPHABITAT), Confederación de Trabajadores Unitarios (CNUS), Foro Social Alternativo (FSA), Movimiento de Trabajadores Independientes (MTI), Articulación Nacional Campesina (ANC), Federación de Productores de Café (FEDERARE), Bloque de Productores del Bosque Seco and Cooperativa Unión Integral.
Agreements and commitments reached:
Dominican organisations :
- Liaise with the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo as well as private universities to grant releases and other forms of support to those students who have lost family members or have otherwise been affected by the damages caused by the earthquake.
- Request the Dominican Government to keep the borders open to facilitate the provision of emergency humanitarian aid, as well as taking into account the participation of rural people’s organisations in its support to the Haitian Government with the provision tractors, seeds and other agricultural inputs.
- Liaise with the ‘Ayuda a Haiti’('Help for Haiti’)platform and establish communication links with the Coordination of Haitian Organisations, so that part of the assistance received can be channelled directly.
Haitian organisations :
- Extend the coordinated efforts in the current emergency situation in the country, with special attention to those who are injured or have been otherwise affected, for which they request support and international solidarity from 'people to people'.
- Support those who have been affected with food, clothing, tents, medicinal supplies, soap, facilitating the extraction and purification of potable water.
- Develop a decentralised strategy for reconstruction following the phase of humanitarian assistance
- Set up a national plan of production.
- Develop a strategy for a participatory reconstruction process, involving the victims and the Haitian population:
- Carry out a mapping of the low-income neighbourhoods in Port-au-Prince that will enable the affected areas to be clearly located and support to be channelled.
- Establish work committees within the Coordination, consolidate and expand the centres assisting the affected population.
- Organise a meeting of rural people’s organisations, convened by the members of Via Campesina in Haiti, prior to the next meeting or assembly of the Coordination.
- Carry out a large-scale meeting of the Coordination in 15 days, integrating new sectors and organisations into the group.
- To establish a permanent channel of exchange and communication between the organisations.
- Carry out a Bi-national Meeting within one month.
- Communicate to the Coordination of Grassroots Organisations in Haiti the willingness of the Dominican organisations to send groups of volunteers to work together with their members during the emergency period, contributing to the organisation of the affected people for the effectiveness of the services that are being provided with their active participation.
- Request to the international networks:
- To put pressure on the International Community and on the countries of the North to carry out the reconstruction process in Haiti with the people, in a participatory manner, without external debt or affront to its sovereignty. A reconstruction process to benefit the people and not for real estate speculation.
To contribute towards ensuring that the decentralised international cooperation assistance for development is channelled directly to the organisations of the Haitian people (and the local authorities that share in this approach), for a participatory reconstruction process, without forced evictions.
3. Request to the Dominican ‘Ayuda a Haiti’ (‘Help for Haiti’) Platform:
To establish a permanent channel of communication with the Coordination of Haitian Organisations and take them into account when distributing the aid that is obtained.
4. The group has agreed to convene a meeting with the social movements to disseminate the report of the mission, as well as a meeting with Haitian professionals, students and young people living in the country.
Haitian Organisations’ Temporary Operations Centre
Canape Vert - Rue Fernand - Impasse Gabriel No 6, Port-au-Prince
Tel: +509 3837 1899 / +509 3461 1455
Confederación de Mujeres del Campo (CONAMUCA)
Cooperativa de Producción Social de la Vivienda y el Hábitat, COOPHABITAT
Confederación Nacional de Unidad Sindical, CNUS
Articulación Nacional Campesina, ANC
Foro Social Alternativo
Campaña Cero Desalojos
Campaña de Solidaridad con Cuba
Unidad del Pueblo
Movimiento de Trabajadores Independientes, MTI
Comité de Solidaridad con Haiti, Nuevo Amanecer
Cooperativa Unión Integral
Federación de Productores de Café, FEDECARE
Bloque de Productores del Bosque Seco
Veterinarios Sin Fronteras
Asamblea de los Pueblos del Caribe, APC
Alianza Internacional de Habitantes, AIH
Vía Campesina – CLOC
Grito de los Excluidos