Archive for ‘Land’

July 13, 2012

Recent NYT coverage of the Caracol Park disappoints

President Martelly unveiled the foundation stone for the Caracol industrial park, November 2011 (Haiti Liberte)

After reading Deborah Sontag’s massive New York Times article about the Clinton-brokered South Korean industrial park in northern Haiti, it took me some time to come up with the appropriate reaction. The article reads like a pump-‘em-up speech for opening night of the Left Forum. Nothing against the annual conclave of leftists; I’d be equally wary if the article tacked the other extreme towards CPAC’s party line.

The Times story is the standard Left pitch of global capitalists teaming up with self-serving governments to exploit the little people. It’s a perfect rendition, actually. Too perfect (as is this rebuttal). But it seems Sontag was more interested in maintaining the Left’s narrative than in fairly reporting on the Caracol project.

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June 13, 2012

Gros Morne mango plant closed by the U.S., but is the story true?

A Le Nouvelliste article about a Gros Morne mango plant, closed by order of the US, is being circulated online as an example of the US delivering, according to the mayor, yet another “slap to the Haitian people.” I tend to focus on foreign coverage of Haiti but I’m writing about this LN article (read the English version on because I want to encourage readers to demand the quality information they deserve about a field as critical to Haiti’s development as economic news–and this article ain’t it.

As an outsider, I learned early on that a defining quality of The Haiti Conversation is the frequency and normalcy with which rumor and hearsay is deployed to support fossilized political points of view.

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June 15, 2010

Best opportunity ever: the diaspora, land and public service

The highlighted green portion above, about 20,000 acres, includes Corail-Cesselesse, one of the newer camp settlements outside P-au-P central

In my periodic search for news about the most consequential issue for Haitians–right after emergency food and medicine–I came across an Ansel Herz article and as luck* would have it, a 7-year project begun pre-earthquake, to modernize Haiti’s land registry.  (Gotta love the Internets.)  What follows are highlights, particularly as they relate to the diaspora.  The big question, always: how can members of the Haitian diaspora facilitate the development of Haiti?  From my perspective, I say, prioritize.

No population relocation, urban planning, transportation planning, infrastructure design, agricultural or tourism development, environmental recovery, or investment attraction will be possible without updated cadastral information….Property taxes cannot be collected…[foreign investment] will not arrive without the security provided by a modern cadastre and land rights infrastructure….

If your thing is women’s rights and safety, you’ve gotta be about the land. If your thing is providing good medical care in Haiti, you’ve got to be about the land.  If your thing is harvesting Haitian souls for the Lord, you’ve got to be about the land.  If your thing is healthy and educated children, you’ve got to be about the land.  If your thing is alms for the poor, you’ve got to be about the land.  As far as I’m concerned, the desire to resolve land rights is the measure of a humanitarian’s genuine interest in building a sustainable Haiti. Everything else is either short-sighted or ego.

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May 13, 2010

DH is reading…

about land, what else?  Until the Haitian government makes deals with private landowners to free up space for evacuees, all the complaints about tents, proper housing and the coming rainy season won’t mean much.  Consider: tent cities turn into long-term cities and folks riot if they think land’s being unfairly appropriated.  This March article provides an excellent overview of the land issue and identifies key decision-makers. (that’s what journalism does that blog posts typically don’t)

One US think tank advises using food aid money to buy all of Haiti’s rice for the next two years:

International donors have committed $5.3 billion for the next 18 months, or $3.53 billion on an annual basis. The cost of buying Haiti’s rice crop is therefore only 1.8 to 2.3 percent of international aid funds.

And the Haitian government and diaspora could take some cues from the Liberian government, which is working hard at tapping its diaspora for development.

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April 24, 2010

Haitians want agricultural development but is the diaspora listening?

Steve Baragona/VOA

The little reported highlight of the March donor conference at the United Nations was the part about what Haitians in Haiti want. I checked.  Media coverage focused on the billions donated, doubts about whether pledges will be kept and how to track all that money.  Very little ink went into broadcasting what a sample of 1,750 Haitians told donors they want.  And it wasn’t just dignity and respect.

I don’t mean to be flip but the few (seriously, like, three) articles which even mention former Haitian journalist and UN spokesperson Michele Montas’ presentation of survey results focused on airy-fairy demands for inclusion, dignity and respect.  Why the basic prerequisites for healthy human existence is presented as news, I haven’t a clue. But while businessmen are understood to want tangibles like money, property and ownership the poor are frequently reported by others to want some existential reward–like they can eat inclusion, dignity and respect.  The appropriate and more telling question, in keeping with a political and not philosophical discussion, is: what tangibles did the Haitian people demand?

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April 13, 2010

It’s the land, stupid

UN/DPI Photo by Eskinder Debebe

If you owned land would you want refugees living there? Rent-free? Indefinitely?  Folks don’t even want their own family shacking up on their property much less strangers.

Land, was the answer that the aid worker who recently returned from Haiti gave when I asked him what was the most critical issue for Haiti in the next year. Want a home? Whose land are you going to use? Want a job? Whose land are you going to work on? Want a school? Whose land are you going to build on? Want a clinic? And so on.

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