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Photo of Week: Page Turner Adventures’ Kenny Mikey and Riley Roam Perform at Concordia International School Shanghai, China

March 3, 2016
PhotoByWadnerPierre

Page Tuner Adventures’ Kenny Mikey, the giant, and Riley Roam perform at Concordia International School Shanghai CISS, China on Feb. 23, 2016 during the Book Week organized by the CISS’s Elementary School library. The attendees were mostly Elementary School students and their teachers and several parents. Photo by Wadner Pierre

The Black Panthers Party: A Story of Fighting Against Racial Discrimination in America and a Plea for Change

February 18, 2016

By Wadner Pierre

PBS Published a documentary about the Black Panthers titled, The Black Panthers Vanguard of the Revolution. This documentary reveals the real goal of the Panthers, which was to end racial discrimination, social injustice against people of colored in America.


In this documentary former Black Panthers members talked about their struggle to overcome social inequality in a country that had not recognized  African-Americans as the citizens of the United States, and that they have the same rights just like their fellow white Americans.

Contrary to what FBI officials at that time wanted American people and the rest of the world to believe that the Panthers represented a threat for America, the Panthers made it clear that they were not haters (they did not hate white Americans). Instead, they were against racial, economic and political exclusion of their race.

FBI willingly misled the nation by fabricating false stories against the Panthers.  As the PBS documentary shows, people from all walk of life, black and white, youth and adults, professionals, students and university professors joined the Panthers in their battle against social, economic and political injustice that people of color were facing throughout the nation.

Today, there is no doubt that  progress has been made; America elected a black president twice and this was an unprecedented change in the country’s history. It brought tears to the eyes of those who had never dreamed of seeing a black man in the Oval office. Nonetheless, it is obvious that America has a long way to go when it comes to eradicate racism and to end social injustice, particularly injustice against African-Americans and other minority communities in the nation.

Additionally, it is important to point out the degree at which some conservative political leaders, would-be presidents, are against immigrants who are immigrated to America like their great grand-parents from Europe did just few centuries ago, to pursue their happiness. Do they forget their stories or do they pretend they do?

To conclude, it is safe to say that the battle against racism and social equality that Black Panthers had fought for, has not been won. American schools are more segregated than they were 50 years ago. America has incarcerated  more black men than any other races. Therefore, the struggle for social justice and social equality (equal access to quality education, healthcare and adequate houses) in America will continue until those demands are met.

 

Haiti: The End of Martelly’s Regime, What’s Next?

February 8, 2016

By Wadner Pierre
Haitians bid farewell to  President Michel J. Martelly.  Martelly left office without a successor to replace him. The former president tried at the last few months of his 5-year-term to organize elections, unfortunately, they were plagued by massive frauds and irregularities according to reports.

In the next coming months,  Haitians will need to elect a new president to lead their country through a democratic process according to Haiti’s Constitution. There is no doubt that unity among Haitians from all walks of life will be crucial to end this political quagmire.

As Haitians trying to figure out the best way to move their country out of this man-made political crisis, it is important that the voice of the people on the streets be heard.

Although there is a power vacuum, a new page in Haiti’s political history is being written by its resilient men and women. Few months since the Haiti’s Conseil Electoral Provisoire Provisional (Provisional Electoral Council) (CEP) published the controversial results for the presidential elections,  second round legislatives and local elections, Haitians have gained the streets to demand that the CEP investigate the then alleged electoral frauds, which no longer mere allegations.

It is important to point out that former President Martelly was himself elected in a controversial presidential election in 2011 with the support of the international community.

 

 

Obama’s Way of Dealing with Global Crisis

January 28, 2016

By Wadner Pierre

In a world where state actors are unlikely to declare war to each other, but non-state actors like terrorist networks such as ISIS will do to either fulfill their political ideology or religious beliefs. That is why it is critical that global leaders carefully explore different options and use the appropriate tools when dealing with a particular global crisis such global terrorism. There is no doubt that a Diplomatic approach as well as a  foreign policy based on Multilateralist could take them a long way.

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President Barack Obama meets with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. National Security Advisior Susan E. Rice listens at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Foreign Affairs’ Fred Kaplan in a 12-page article discuss President Barack Obama’s way of dealing with the global crisis. Kaplan’s assessment of  the president’s Foreign Affairs policy is by far the best assessment I have not come across for the past seven years of Obama’s presidency. I was so impressed of the way Kaplan wrote his essay that I sent him a message right after I read the entire  essay.

One sentence can summarize Kaplan’s assessment of the president’s way of   handling US Foreign Policy: ‘waiting for a better parking spot to open up.’ After reading President Obama’s Audacity of Hope, I have to admit that Kaplan gets it right. Kaplan’s use of simple language and interview with former and currentU.S. military officials, as well as  former and current officials of Obama administration and close aides to support is argument make this essay is written piece.

Addionally, Kaplan analyzed the president’s December 2009 speech in Oslo upon receiving his Nobel Peace Prize. As Kaplan wrote, “The award was premature, to say the least, but he used his acceptance speech to lay down the principles of a foreign policy he hoped to follow—a sophisticated grappling with the tensions between idealism and realism.”

As Kaplan pointed out, Obama’s speech was not a typical “Peace Prize recipient’”s speech. In his statement, President Obama said, “To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism.” He added, “It is a recognition of history, the imperfection of man, and the limits of reason.” He further argued, “Nations must adhere to standards that govern the use of force, and a just, lasting peace must be based on the inherent rights and dignity of every individual.”

Furthermore, the president made it clear and insisted that America should not act alone. He said, “Still America cannot act alone, except on matters of vital national interest, and mere lofty rhetoric about human rights only sustains a crippling status quo.” He continued to say, “Engagement with repressive regimes may lack the satisfying purity of indignation,” and added “but no repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.” For many who have been working or follwing President Obama’s way of handling global crisis, this speech represents a “template” of the president’s foreign Policy.

Benjamin Rhodes, Obama’s Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting told Kaplan, “When people ask me to summarize [Obama’s] foreign policy, I tell them to take a close look at that speech.” Rhodes was referring to Oslo’s speech.

Another former top White House official hailed the Oslo’s speech, “a template to how” [the president] “approaches problems.” The official added that the speech is “a framework for how he thinks about U.S. power.”

Kaplan stated, “Whether he followed the template—how he grappled in action with the tensions he recognized in theory—would be, by his own standard, the measure of his presidency.”

I personally agree with Obama’s way of dealing with most of global crises. It is crucial that in a volatile and complex world that any honest and open-minded leader should be able to combine multilateralism, realism and idealism when assessing some of the global challenges. It also is important that leaders of powerful nations like the United States understand when, why and which tool should they use to solve a particular crisis that is taking place oust of their bothers. Acting alone is risky business, particular when dealing with non-state actors such as the global terrorist networks like ISIS.

President Obama, in my opinion, sees the world as it is, but he also want to make it as it should be by working with others who, too, have interest in making the world a peaceful and stable one. However, he can only do the best of his ability for our world is very complex world.

You can read Kaplan’s essay here.

#ForeignPolicyInReview

Haiti’s Fraudulent Presidential Frontrunner, Jovel Moïse Seizes Land for His Own Banana Republic

January 21, 2016

 

By Joshua Steckley and Beverly Bell

This report is based on extensive interviews, on-site and via phone, with more than 20 government officials, economic development professionals, peasant farmers, and community organizers, between July 2015 and January 2016. We reached out to Agritrans for comment, but they did not respond.

Agritrans Bananas

The frontrunner in Haiti’s rigged election grabbed land from peasant farmers to grow bananas for export. Photo: Joshua Steckley.

The only man running in Haiti’s fraudulent presidential election run-offs on January 24, 2016, Jovenel Moïse, dispossessed as many as 800 peasants – who were legally farming – and destroyed houses and crops two years ago, say leaders of farmers’ associations in the Trou-du-Nord area. Farmers remain homeless and out of work. The land grabbed by the company Moïse founded, Agritrans, now hosts a private banana plantation.

To grow bananas for export in a hungry nation, Agritrans received at least $6 million in state loans, and possibly much more. Agritrans seized a 1,000-hectare (2,371-acre) tract from farmers, bulldozed their houses and fields, used bribes to buy local support, distorted claims of its benefit to local residents, and created a phantom organization to legitimate itself.

Should he become president, the company Moïse created would likely be a bellwether of loss of family livelihood and domestic food production.

To stand for office, Moïse stepped down from Agritrans last year, though he is still campaigning under the moniker Nèg Bannann, or the Banana Man. He portrays himself as an entrepreneur determined to transform Haiti’s agricultural sector into private enterprise.

Moïse alone will appear on the presidential ballot after the only other candidate who was imposed on the run-off slate said that he would not participate in “this farce… [of] selections.” Moïse is from the political party of the current president Michel Martelly, whose principal platform has been “Haiti: Open for Business.” Martelly himself came into office in 2011 through an invalid election backed – like the current one – by the US. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton played a pivotal role in imposing him.

A Moïse presidency would ensure that political decisions prioritize free trade and private enterprise over support for the destitute majority. This, in turn, would likely give a green light to massive land grabs that are planned or in process, while peasants working the land would be dispossessed.

Expropriation and Destruction of Homes

In August 2013, according to local residents, Agritrans forcefully expelled hundreds of farmers who were legally using the land. Local leader Milosten Castin, coordinator of the organization Action to Reforest and Defend the Environment, said that, with no warning, several bulldozers invaded the land, plowing under crops and forage used for grazing. The machines later destroyed the homes of at least 17 families, many of whom remain homeless today.

After protests organized by the Peasant Movement for the Development of Deveren (MPDD) took place, Agritrans gave the owners of the destroyed homes US$40 to US$700 each in compensation. Gilles St. Pierre, a member of MPDD who lost his concrete block house, said the compensation was inadequate. “What am I supposed to do with 700 dollars?,” he asked in a phone interview last week. “I had a house and land… and now I work as a taxi driver.”

Food for Export, Not for Eating

The Agritrans plantation is the first agricultural free trade zone in the country, established by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. This allows the company to take advantage of perks of reduced tax and tariff payments, along with special customs treatment. Read more…

Photo of the Week: Thailand , Land of Caring and Smiling People

January 17, 2016
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The sun rises in the beach of Hua Hin, Thailand. Photo by Wadner Pierre

The Blood of the Earth: Agriculture, Land Rights, and Haitian History

January 16, 2016

 

From an Interview with Ricot Jean-Pierre

By Beverly Bell

Yesterday, January 12, on the sixth anniversary of the 7.0 earthquake, Haitians mourned the countless lives lost. Among the many aftershocks they face is disaster capitalism, in which the Haitian elite and foreign corporations – backed by the US government, World Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank – are grabbing lands for extraction and mega-development projects. Ricot Jean-Pierre, social worker and program director of the Platform to Advocate Alternative Development in Haiti (PAPDA), tells how inequitable control of land has devastated the vast majority throughout Haitian history, from enslavement to today.  

Bear Guerra image for Haiti series article 2

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In this photo, Haitian farmers maximize productivity in small lots by utilizing a technique – adapted from Nicaragua – of planting in recycled tires. Photo: Roberto (Bear) Guerra.

 

Today we live in a crucial moment in which peasants are confronting challenges as they grapple with global warming, with the power of multinational companies over what they eat and how they live, and with an agricultural model that can’t provide them livelihood. Among the risks and catastrophes the peasants confront are lack of quality and quantity in food production, and their right to live as human beings. They also face a challenge in accessing the basic resources they need to produce, especially seeds and water.

The biggest problem has to do with access to land. Land defines social relations and economic systems in communities and countries. The right to land is linked with the agricultural system peasants want and to the kind of economic model that can buttress it. We see this in Haiti as all over in Latin America, Africa, and other parts the world.

There has to be a battle over the future of the global economic model, linked with the agricultural model as defined by Via Campesina. That model has to be family-oriented, peasant-oriented, and ecological. It has to adequately address questions of land ownership, of what and how peasants produce, of all the questions linked to their future and the future of the planet. Today, all of this is greatly threatened by the agro-industrial model of production, within the broader model of capitalist production that threatens life itself. That agro-industrial model does not augur a good future for the world’s people.

Land: Lynchpin in Haitian History

Let’s look at the issue of land in the Haitian context. Even though Haiti has a specific history, it must nonetheless be placed in a context of global forces. These processes have been more acute in Haiti than in many countries, being an area that – since 1492 with the arrival of Columbus – was subjugated sequentially by Spain, France and others in the triangular trade between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. The colonizers used Indians first, replacing them with Africans next, to work the land as slaves and produce great wealth.

In 1791, we had a slave revolt driven by two major demands: freedom and access to land. The latter was the central concern of the peasantry vis-à-vis winning the country’s liberation, under generals who promised access to land as a major incentive. The struggles of the dominated were to achieve control over their lives, the land, their own production processes, their own economy and, ultimately, the political independence of country. Read more…

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