August 28, 2011
Mario Joseph of BAI, Human Rights Defender of Haiti’s Homeless, Invited to Speak in Boston

A Haitian Child Under the Advancing Cloud of Hurricane Emily -- AP Photo

Can you imagine facing a hurricane with only a tarp? Whereas my family prepares today for the onslaught of Hurricane Irene under a solid roof on a hilltop, more than 600,000 Haitians are still bracing through hurricane season in steamy, flimsy, cloth pockets.

 

After seventeen months, why have only 50,000 of the original 1.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) been officially resettled?  Why are unannounced, violent evictions of camp dwellers escalating around Port-au-Prince, without a plan for relocation?  Why has the Haitian government not seized land by eminent domain to create transitional communities, when all the IDPs could receive transitional housing for an estimated $200 million? In search of answers, Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research interviewed Mario Joseph, Esq., director of a team of human rights defenders in Haiti, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI.)

 

Funded in part by a grant from the Haiti Fund at the Boston Foundation to the BAI‘s sister organization in Boston, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), the BAI has been mobilizing community organizers and lawyers to teach camp dwellers their rights and to resist unlawful evictions. On August 20 they successfully resisted a forced eviction of 75 families from the Barbancourt neighborhood in Port-au-Prince

 

In October the Haiti Fund will host renowned attorney Mario Joseph from Haiti at a public forum in Boston.  For date and details contact bostonhaitifund@tbf.org.

 

Mark Weisbrot is Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, (cepr@cepr.net) a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, DC.  For Mark Weisbrot’s article published in the UK paper the Guardian on August 22 click here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/aug/22/haiti-homeless-tents-aid