‘We are not slaves!’: Haitian garment workers strike for a fair wage

Sandra Wisner, IJDH Senior Staff Attorney, speaks in The Real News Network on international accountability amid Haitian garment workers’ strike to demand fairer wages.

“Sandra Wisner, senior staff attorney for The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), thinks it’s time the international community acknowledged its role in creating these conditions on the ground. “It needs to take a look at itself,” she told The Real News, “and focus on providing a long-term, rights-based approach to development in the country instead of prioritizing foreign interests.” 

“The Caracol Industrial Park, where the recent spate of garment worker actions started, is a good case study.

“In 2010, after the devastating earthquake, it was decided by foreign actors—the US and the Inter-America Development Bank—to locate a new garment center in the north-east district, distant from the epicenter. But in the process of building the garment center where they did, Wisner explained, Haitians were dispossessed of valuable fertile land, replacing subsistence farming with a textile industry that exploits cheap labor. A dozen years later, hundreds of farmers and their families are still waiting to get paid for the seizure of their land and the loss of their livelihoods.

““It was slated to provide 65,000 new jobs to the country,” Wisner said of the original plan for the garment center. “But as of two years ago, it had only provided around 14,000 jobs. When the international community comes into the country and decides what development is going to look like no matter the repercussions for Haitians, there needs to be accountability for that.” 

“Where is the accountability for that?” she asks.”

Read the full article here.