Ezili Dantò – Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network

US must STOP blocking Haitian relief : 80% of Haiti’s population live OUTSIDE of Port au Prince: Haiti is not the Republic of Port au Prince where the internationals congregate. Haiti already has its own REBUILDING plans

As we examine this rush to rebuilt DESTROYED Haiti, let’s remember the earthquake destroyed 70% of Port au Prince but 90% of Leoganes and Petit Goaves. All eyes are on Port au Prince in a way it never was when Gonaive was destroyed TWICE, once in 2004 and then in 2008. Why? Because Port au Prince is where the major government offices, the foreign embassies, Haiti universities and, especially the Haitian Oligarchy and 45,000 US foreign nationals and other foreign nationals congregate.

But, as the media drenches itself in their "Haiti is destroyed, needs complete rebuilding" sensationalist spiel. Let us remember Haiti is NOT buildings. Haiti’s soul is its PEOPLE, it’s history, its culture of resistance and resilience. Haitians are historically immune to adversities. Always have been. Nou La! And we’re still here.

Yes with an unthinkable, gut-wrenching half-a-million people probably crushed to death by the earthquake. Yes some have lost all their family, friends, work colleagues. Yes, and with another 500,000 living, breathing suffering Haitians in desperate, desperate need of medical attention and over 1 million displaced and in need of water, food, shelter, nurturing, medical and trauma counseling. But Haiti is all its people. It’s not foreigners, foreign embassies, foreign NGOs, UN programs, USAID’s vision for Haiti, their media spins, self-serving narratives and constant stories of Haitian corruption as if Haiti’s corruption was somehow worst than US or European government corruption.

Families outside of Port au Prince ARE taking in their relatives from Port au Prince. Out of 10 million, there are two million shattered sentient beings in Port au Prince, but 8 million Haitian people outside of Port au Prince are very much ALIVE and right at this very moment, rebuilding theri families, re-uniting separated souls and ready to take in whatever humanitarian help comes from compassionate people who want to help them help themselves to recover and REBUILD a new Haiti. A Haiti where people don’t go hungry and foreign policy doesn’t strum dependency and destroy the people’s voice in their own democracy.

Why is everyone rushing to ignore these Haitians? They are competent, alive and more motivated than any international saviors, than the UN, than Paul Farmer, than Bill Clinton, than George Bush, than the Red Cross, World Vision, World Food Aid Program, CARE International, et al. With the little they have, they are already taking care of their own and themselves, as usual.

In all these "marshall plans," all these plans, plans, plans for rebuilding Port au Prince, WHERE are the Haitians of Kafou, Site Soley, La Saline, Croix Des Bourquet, Leoganes, Petit Goaves, Cap Haitian and the rest of Haiti who’ve been pushing to change the paradigm for Haiti WITHOUT militarization, without foreign ownership, without NGO charity dependency, without foreign meddling, for decades after decades? Where is the Haiti who only wants solidarity of its more powerful neighbors, not paternalism. Where is the re-memberment of two centuries resistance to Western re-colonization and becoming a US/France client state, no less?

Where is the acknowlegement that the forcibly removed, democratically elected president of Haiti , along with Haitians, from all the professions, already HAVE put together a plan for a private/public partnership to REBUILD Haiti, back when Haiti was free and that said information is outlined, as well as, what Haiti’s resources/riches are to finance this rebuilding, in a book called "Investing In People: Lavalas White Book under the direction of Jean-Betrand Aristide (Investir Dans L’Humain)? (See, Oil in Haiti, the economic reason for occupation.)

Four million Haitians abroad should NOT be blocked because the United States has unilaterally decided to use the occasion of the earthquake to take over Haiti’s ports, airports and stop commercial flights into Haiti for its own purposes. This hinders these millions upon millions of Haitians abroad from entering Haiti with resources, authentic and DIRECT help for their families, their people, their homeland.

Those displaced and those taking on relatives in their outback hometowns ought to be assisted and empowered, not prevented from seeing their own flesh and blood with more resources who want to go to Haiti and help them without military guns in their faces, US draconian policies preventing legal residents from leaving Haiti and especially without the disrespect of occupation in Dessalines’ land.

Haiti has no major "security" issue and doesn’t need 20,000 US soldiers. The militarization of Haiti and emergency relief must end. Haiti sovereigny and Haitian self-determination respected. The blockage by the US of Haitians entering Haiti MUST stop. 80% of Haiti’s populations live OUTSIDE of Port au Prince. Haiti is not the Republic of Port au Prince where the internationals congregate.

Here are articles to underline these points. See, With capital in ruins, northern Haiti struggles ; Danny Glover on DemocracyNow -Former Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide “Mystified” at U.S. Resistance to His Return ; and, If Obama can do it then why can’t Haiti’s Preval?; The Kidnapping of Haiti by John Pilger; and, “Haiti: Killing the Dream”: Excerpt of Documentary on Centuries of Western Subversion of Haitian Sovereignty. Listen to excerpt of Democracy Now, Feb. 10, 2010 coverage.

"if Obama could reach across party lines to invite Clinton and Bush to work for Haiti during this crisis, then why can’t Preval do the same by inviting Aristide to return? (If Obama can do it then why can’t Haiti’s Preval?);

" Before the earthquake, Port-au-Prince absorbed masses of impoverished Haitians who left the outlying provinces in search of better economic opportunities; it also attracted thousands of students and fortune seekers. Now, many of those same people are returning home en masse…Families are generous … they share what they have…Even if the house is small, they always find a place to put someone affected by the catastrophe." (With capital in ruins, northern Haiti struggles.)

"…there’s a stalemate right now as to why he can’t return in some capacity. Wouldn’t it be—wouldn’t it be, I think, appropriate for him to be there at this particular moment, as the Haitians go through this suffering, but also to be—in some capacity, work with the reconstruction of Haiti, as well? You know, we know that at some point there has to be some unifying force. The government has been devastated by this. The government also only receives a small portion of the aid money that goes there. Less than a cent, that it goes there…

But I think it’s very key that there’s a plan for Haiti. And we have to begin to—as progressives and people who are concerned about Haiti and have been concerned about Haiti, we have to begin to build some sort of consensus, a movement around the Haiti that the Haitians envision. The plan is not what the Haitians envision. Of course, it’s never been what the Haitians envision, from the outset of its independence. But we must be there to support what their plan is. And certainly, their plan is a plan in which there’s reconstruction where Haitians participate in that.

We’re not past the immediate crisis. There’s no doubt about that. People are still without food, without water, without—you have the rains coming. You have the potential of hurricanes coming. All those things. Real soon. We’re not past that. It’s important for us to kind of continue, to begin to lobby, to pressure Congress, to—and John Conyers has been very good, and members of the Black Caucus are very good. Maxine Waters has been very good—to pressure them to make sure that the Haitians’ voice is in the process, this building process. Not only that, but those needs, those needs that are met, the immediate needs, medical needs, etc., are dealt with. You know, we do not want the militarization of Haiti. We do not see a Haitian as a protectorate where it relinquishes its own sovereignty. The important thing is that Haitians be a part of this whole process. And certainly, my opinion—and I’m saying my opinion—President Aristide, or should one say Father Aristide, however you want to put it, has a central role and a key role to play in that process…(Danny Glover on DemocracyNow -Former Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide “Mystified” at U.S. Resistance to His Return ); and,

"…The theft of Haiti has been swift and crude. On 22 January, the United States secured “formal approval” from the United Nations to take over all air and sea ports in Haiti, and to “secure” roads. No Haitian signed the agreement, which has no basis in law. Power rules in an American naval blockade and the arrival of 13,000 marines, special forces, spooks and mercenaries, none with humanitarian relief training.

The airport in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is now an American military base and relief flights have been re-routed to the Dominican Republic. All flights stopped for three hours for the arrival of Hillary Clinton. Critically injured Haitians waited unaided as 800 American residents in Haiti were fed, watered and evacuated. Six days passed before the US Air Force dropped bottled water to people suffering thirst and dehydration.

The first TV reports played a critical role, giving the impression of widespread criminal mayhem. Matt Frei, the BBC reporter dispatched from Washington, seemed on the point of hyperventilation as he brayed about the “violence” and need for “security”. In spite of the demonstrable dignity of the earthquake victims, and evidence of citizens’ groups toiling unaided to rescue people, and even an American general’s assessment that the violence in Haiti was considerably less than before the earthquake, Frei claimed that “looting is the only industry” and “the dignity of Haiti’s past is long forgotten.” Thus, a history of unerring US violence and exploitation in Haiti was consigned to the victims…." (The Kidnapping of Haiti by John Pilger.)

"…These people are too dumb to write their own Constitution, I have to do it for them…- Franklin D. Roosevelt (“Haiti: Killing the Dream”: Excerpt of Documentary on Centuries of Western Subversion of Haitian Sovereignty , Listen to excerpt of Democracy Now – Feb. 10, 2010 coverage.)


Ezili Dantò is an award winning playwright, a performance poet, political and social commentator, author and human rights attorney. She was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and raised in the USA. She holds a BA from Boston College, a JD from the University of Connecticut School of law. She is a human rights lawyer, cultural and political activist and the founder and president of the Ezili’s Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN).



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