On July 24, 2014 we had a great conference call on Fran Quigley’s new book, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti: Activists, Lawyers, and the Grassroots Campaign. If you missed it, here’s a recap. The key takeaways are in bold.
- Nicole Phillips (moderator) thanks staff who helped organize the call and introduces the book, Fran Quigley, and Mario Joseph. She explains that Brian Concannon is also on the call but will be translating for Mario and thus, not giving an intro.
- Fran says “We are living in a moment of real historic opportunity for Haiti.” Then he describes the incredible number of Americans who donated to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and how he’s impressed with how many people are interested in Haiti. He goes on to say that “Charity, however well-intentioned, is not enough” because Haiti needs social change and activists fighting for that. Just like in the anti-Apartheid and Civil Rights movements, activism led to social change. Fortunately, Haiti already has many activists fighting on the ground but more remains to be done. The cholera campaign has the potential to establish that Haitians have human rights that should be respected by the global community. It’s a groundbreaking case.
- Then Mario gives an intro to BAI’s work, explaining how Brian began the partnership between the two men and the two organizations, BAI and IJDH. He explains how he, Brian, and others worked closely with victims of the Raboteau Massacre and activists for justice for the victims. They ate with them and really spent time getting to know them and ended up winning the first such case in Haiti’s history. Mario also thanks everyone who joined the call and thanks IJDH for putting the call together to help him spread the word about human rights in Haiti.
- Nicole asks Fran to tell his favorite story about Mario before opening up for questions. Fran says that he can’t think of one story because Mario’s life story is so impressive. He says “The movement makes the leader more than the leader makes the movement.” Then he explains how Mario’s life embodies the movement for justice in Haiti, from his humble beginnings and struggle for education, to today.
- Paul Miller asks what our plan is for promoting the book and using it to spread the word about why human rights approach is the best way to build Haiti:
- Brian explains that we will spread the word through social media, emails, and word of mouth as usual. Fran will also have speaking engagements all over the country. If anyone is interested, please contact us for more information. We will also post the currently scheduled events on the site. After the call, we will also send out an action alert, listing some easy things everyone can do to get involved. This is part of reviving our old “Half Hour for Haiti” action alert emails.
- Nicole asks Mario what the most important human rights issue in Haiti is right now and Mario says elections. He explains that most of the local representatives have been chosen by the Martelly government and only 2/3 of Senate seats are currently filled. This will get worse in January as another 1/3 of the Senators’ terms will expire. All the House of Deputies seats will also expire by January if there is no clear and reliable date set for elections.
- Mario makes some closing remarks: The problems we’re dealing with are in Haiti but Haiti isn’t isolated. I would like to invite everyone to be engaged—there are people who provide financing but Americans can also participate as citizens: Contact Congressmen, etc. We don’t need to make a distinction between Democrats and Republicans—there have been issues on both sides (e.g. Clinton’s policies that undermined rice production in Haiti). Find ways to engage with organizations that are effecting change in Haiti. We need to be absolutely clear that the charity approach doesn’t work—there needs to be collaboration between organizations and Haitian people. People need to stay engaged because there’s a big problem with propaganda about Haiti. People need to stay engaged to fight that propaganda.
- Again, Mario thanks Paul Miller, IJDH, Fran Quigley, and everyone who’s helped so far.
- Nicole thanks everyone for participating and reminds them to keep an eye out for the action alert and other emails from IJDH, as well as Fran Quigley’s site, speakoutforhaiti.org, which will also have updates about the book tour and actionable steps.
Click HERE for more info on the book.