Half-Hour for Haiti: Change We Can Work For
Update: It has been a while since our last alert (our apologies), so we have many updates. First, some good news: Haitian death-squad leader Emmanuel Constant was sentenced to 12-37 years in New York State court for mortgage fraud. Thanks to everyone who has written, called and faxed over the years to make this justice possible.
Thanks as well to everyone who responded to our October alert urging U.S. immigration officials to grant TPS to Haitians. Official TPS status has not been granted yet, but the temporary moratorium on deportations remains in effect. We will continue the fight for just treatment of Haitians in the U.S. with the new Congress and Administration.
Bad news/good news: the Senate did not vote on the Jubilee Act for debt cancellation, so the Act will expire with the end of the current Congress. Sen. Coburn of Oklahoma placed a hold on the bill, which prevented it from it getting to the floor. The good news is that through all of our hard work, we generated enough support for the Act to pass the House, and we are confident it would have passed the Senate had it reached a vote. The new Congress is expected to be even more receptive towards debt relief, and one of the Jubilee Act’s Senate co-sponsors will be sitting in the White House.
Check out our new Facebook page, The Friends of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. It’s a good (and quick) way to keep up with our work, see some interesting photos and connect with others who care about justice in Haiti.
Book recommendation: On that Day Everybody Ate, by Margaret Trost, chronicles Ms. Trost’s journey from a first-time Haiti visitor to founder of the What If? Foundation, which works with former political prisoner, human rights activist and Catholic Priest Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste to feed over 7,500 meals a week to poor kids in Haiti. The book would make an excellent holiday gift. It is well-written, hopeful, a quick read, and would be of interest to anyone who cares about Haiti or has struggled with the gap between material comfort in wealthy countries and poor ones.
We’ve been posting articles and analyses regarding U.S. policy to Haiti under a New Administration and Congress at the top of our website, www.HaitiJustice.org. If there’s anything we’ve missed, please let us know. Add your own insights to the discussion at the Haiti Justiceblog. The consensus of those who have been writing about Haiti policy, and U.S. foreign policy in general, is that January will bring unprecedented opportunities for positive change. But with the financial crisis and so much damage that needs to be repaired, positive change will only be realized where an organized constituency lets Washington know that a particular issue is important.
So let’s start right now telling Washington that justice for Haiti is important. We’ll start with economic justice: the Jubilee USA Network is already gathering messages from people who care about debt relief to present the new Treasury Secretary. IJDH and Jubilee prepared the action alert below for last weekend’s School of the Americas Vigil at Fort Benning, Georgia. Jubilee is collecting messages in any form- email, written, photographs, artwork- so use your creativity!
For more information about the Half-Hour For Haiti program, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) or human rights in Haiti, see our website, www.HaitiJustice.org. To receive Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alerts (about 2 per month), send an email to HalfHour4Haiti@ijdh.org.