Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Farming hailed as key to rebuilding Haiti — from the soil up

Photograph by: Natasha Fillion, The gazette The key to Haiti’s salvation, says the man who would be president of the nation that has languished in terminal poverty for generations, is a “no-brainer.” “There are three million farming families in Haiti,” says Charles Henri Baker, a leading candidate in Haiti’s coming elections. “The textile sector, to which I belong . . . could create 100,000, maybe 200,000 jobs. Agriculture can create three million jobs, bring down the cost of living and decentralize the four million people living in and around Port-au-Prince. . . . They could go back to their villages and lead positive lives, rather than stay in Port-au-Prince and just barely make a living.” If $1 billion of the $11 billion pledged by international donors was put toward agriculture, the world could “watch Haiti not only feed itself, but […]

“We are at a Crossroads” – Yannick Etienne on Sweatshops as a Development Model.

By Beverly Bell, Huffington Post The U.S. and U.N. have based their plan for Haiti’s redevelopment on the expansion of the assembly industry. Toward this end, the U.S. Congress passed legislation last month which would expand benefits and income for U.S. investors yet again. Haitian workers will continue to earn $3.09 a day. Worker rights groups and other sectors of Haiti’s social justice movements are adamant that a sweatshop-based development model cannot advance either the country or its workers. First, the investments are unstable, and companies can and do pull out at a moment’s notice. Second, the work does not offer a living wage, benefits, possibilities for advancement, or skills training. Third, with the primary products and the machinery imported and the finished products exported, assembly does not stimulate Haiti’s economy. Here Yannick Etienne, an organizer with the labor rights […]

Poverty-Wage Assembly Plants as Development Strategy in Haiti: An Interview With the Center for the Promotion of Women Workers

By Beverly Bell and Tory Field, Truthout Interview Mirlene Joanis in front of a poster stating the rights of women factory workers. Few of these rights are respected. (Photo: Beverly Bell) The US Congress has passed bipartisan legislation, the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act, that would extend and expand current trade law with Haiti to increase US imports of Haitian assembled textiles. Passed May 5 and 6 by the House and Senate, respectively, the bill is part of the push by US, UN, other international leaders and businesses to expand the low-wage assembly industry as the linchpin of Haiti’s post-earthquake recovery. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law. “This important step responds to the needs of the Haitian people for more tools to lift themselves from poverty, while standing to benefit US consumers,” said a statement […]

Poverty-Wage Assembly Plants as Development Strategy in Haiti: An Interview with the Center for the Promotion of Women Workers

By Beverly Bell and Tory Field, Huffington Post The U.S. Congress has passed bi-partisan legislation, the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act, that would extend and expand current trade law with Haiti to increase U.S. imports of Haitian assembled textiles. Passed May 5 and 6 by the House and Senate, respectively, the bill is part of the push by U.S., U.N., other international leaders, and businesses to expand the low-wage assembly industry as the linchpin of Haiti’s post-earthquake recovery. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law. “This important step responds to the needs of the Haitian people for more tools to lift themselves from poverty, while standing to benefit U.S. consumers,” said a statement by former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton about the bill.[1] The benefit of cheap imports for U.S. consumers is one matter, […]

House votes to give Haiti textiles a boost

By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday approved trade breaks for Haiti’s textile industry, the latest of several actions aimed at helping the hemisphere’s poorest nation recover from a devastating earthquake. The measure approved by a voice vote expands the kinds of textile products and apparel that Haiti can export to the United States duty-free. It also nearly triples the levels under which certain knit and woven apparel products may receive duty-free treatment and extends through 2020 a trade program that had contributed to Haiti’s economic growth before the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed an estimated 230,000. “Once the earthquake hit, it became clear that something needed to be done to help Haiti regain the footing that it had worked so hard to attain. This legislation does that,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. […]

Lawmakers Agree on Trade Bill to Help Haiti

  By Doug Palmer, Reuters   WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top U.S. lawmakers said on Wednesday they have reached a bipartisan deal to help Haiti rebuild its earthquake-shattered economy by opening the U.S. market to more Haitian clothing and textiles. “Today’s legislation responds to the clear call to action Americans heard in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti,” Democratic U.S. Representative Sander Levin, chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement. The deal was reached by the top Democrats and Republicans on two key committees in the House and Senate, boosting the bill’s chances of passage. The clothing sector accounted for about 75 percent of Haiti’s exports and employed more than 25,000 Haitians before the January 12 earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people in the Caribbean nation. “The Haitian garment sector, Haiti’s […]

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