Saturday, January 16, 2010

Help Haiti at Albuquerque's Visiones Gallery with Art, Food & Music on Jan. 22

From Working Classroom:
Last summer, Albuquerque Journal photojournalist and Haitian native Adolphe Pierre-Louis shared his craft with 10 young artists at Working Classroom. Their work together is featured in "From The Studio To The Street," a photo exhibit opening with a public reception Friday, January 22, from 6:00-8:00 PM in Working Classrooms Visiones Gallery at 115 Gold SW in downtown Albuquerque.

In the wake of the horrendous aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, the reception will now be a fundraising event for survivors with.

  • Live music by Racine Kreyol
  • Haitian food and drinks catered by Haitian chef, Fofo
  • Silent auction of Haitian art
  • Photos by Adolphe Pierre Louis and Working Classroom students
  • Proceeds from sales and donations will benefit Doctors Without Borders and The International Red Cross

This is an opportunity for Albuquerque residents to come out and show their support for the people of Haiti, enjoy Haitian culture, support student artists AND purchase affordable art for a good cause.

January 16, 2010 at 01:37 PM in Arts, Events, Food and Drink, Haiti Earthquake, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stephen Jones: A Moral Outrage

This is a post by contributing writer, Stephen Jones, who is a progressive political activist and a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“Couté la liberté li palé coeurs nous tous.”

“Listen to the voice of liberty which speaks in the heart of all of us.”

--Boukman, August 22, 1791

On Wednesday, Pat Robertson, the founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and several other commercial corporations, and a national leader of the Republican Party, pronounced on his 700-Club television show that Tuesday’s earthquake that devastated Haiti and has cost an estimated 100,000 lives was a “blessing in disguise.”

Robertson went on to blame the people of Haiti for their own tragedy. “Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it,” Robertson said. “They were under the heel of the French. Napoleon the Third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you get us free from the prince.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’ They kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor.”

This is yet another in an endless stream of outrageous statements by the televangelist and Republican leader over the past decade. Shortly after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell, his fellow Republican preacher, proclaimed that the “ACLU, abortionists, feminists, gays, and the People For the American Way” were somehow responsible for the attacks.

Chris Roslen, a spokesman for Robertson told Politico that Robertson’s “comments were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French.”

Bois Caiman (the ceremony at the Alligator Woods) is considered by most Haitians as the beginning of their Revolution. On the night of August 22, 1791, a secret gathering of slaves in the backcountry wetlands of northern Haiti (then the French Colony of Saint-Domingue) swore an oath to one another to overthrow slavery and win for themselves the blessings of liberty.

At Bois Caiman, Boukman’s plead allegiance to “The god, who created the earth; who created the sun that gives us light. The god who holds up the ocean; who makes the thunder roar. Our God who has ears to hear. You who are hidden in the clouds; who watch us from where you are. You see all that the white has made us suffer. The white man’s god asks him to commit crimes. But the god within us wants to do good. Our god, who is so good, so just, He orders us to revenge the wrongs. It’s He who will direct our arms and bring us the victory. It’s He who will assist us. We all should throw away the image of the white men’s god who is so pitiless. Listen to the voice of liberty which speaks in the heart of all of us.

Within hours of Boukman’s appeal, the sugar plantations of the north were in flames. Boukman was quickly captured and publicly beheaded by the French, but another escaped slave, Toussaint L’Ouverture, a coachman, quickly took his place as the leader of the uprising.

In a succession of genocidal wars between the colonial powers from 1791-1804, the former slaves of Haiti defeated, in succession, the French colonial slave masters, an imperial invasion force from Spain, an invasion and occupation by the British, and finally, the French army under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother-in-law, General Charles LeClerc. LeClerc had been given orders by Bonaparte to put down the rebellion and “exterminate every man, woman and child.” From there, according to Bonaparte’s instructions, LeClerc was to move on to New Orleans, and presumably capture the United States. Instead LeClerc perished in the war. His army devastated in Haiti, Napoleon sold Louisiana, a third of a continent, to Thomas Jefferson.

On January 1, 1804 independence was declared and the old French Colonial name abandoned in favor of the half-forgotten Native American name for the land once inhabited by the Taino people prior to their extermination by the European colonists, Ayiti, or Haiti. It was the first and the only successful slave revolution in human history, and its shockwaves set all of Latin America on the path to independence, and slavery in the Western Hemisphere on the path to abolition.

That Haiti has been cursed can hardly be denied, but it is hardly an act of any god. All of the European powers and the United States, with slaves of their own to worry about, placed an embargo on the new Republic, ending its international trade and driving it into isolation and poverty.

In order to accept the fact of Haitian independence and abandon its colonial claim, in 1848 the French government demanded reparations for its loss in slaves in treasure in the sum of 150 Million Francs, in gold. Eighty percent of Haiti’s treasury. Haiti paid the French in exchange for the promise of peace. To service the debt, Haiti was forced to borrow money from Britain, Germany and, later, the United States. To prevent Haiti from defaulting on its debt, the United States invaded and occupied Haiti from 1915-1934, absconding with the profits from Haiti’s international trade, and leaving the country even more impoverished.

The rest is just “history” as they say. Haiti is still a nation abandoned to grinding poverty with international trade organizations demanding payment. In the face of Tuesday’s earthquake, this debt needs to be canceled. All of it.

Individual Americans can help in the relief by donating to those organizations that are working to help the victims of this natural disaster, but we can do more. We can also demand our representatives work to deliver aid, assistance and relief to Haiti. This is a not only a humanitarian issue, but one of national security for both of our nations. We can also demand that those corporations that profit off of Haitian labor pay a living wage, starting with Major League Baseball, whose official baseballs are manufactured in Haiti.

Republican Pat Robertson’s spokesman claims that the preacher is leading a major effort to provide aid. It is, more than likely, just another one of Pat Robertson’s use of a natural disaster to milk the flock for money to enrich himself and his own corporations. At any rate, Haiti needs aid to rebuild and to care for the injured, not proselytizing by racist demagogues like Pat Robertson.

A pact with liberty is not a pact with the “devil.” Robertson’s statements are an outrage and we ought to call on all of our religious, civic and political leaders, from every creed and political stripe, to denounce them for what they are. And we, and they, need to do so, today.

To read more posts by contributing writer Stephen Jones, visit our archive.

January 14, 2010 at 12:30 AM in By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Corporatism, Haiti Earthquake, History, Religion | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Resources, President Obama Urges Americans to Help

You can help immediately by donating to the Red Cross to assist the relief effort. Contribute online here, or donate $10 to be charged to your cell phone bill by texting "HAITI" to "90999."

President Barack Obama spoke to the press this morning about the horrible tragedy unfolding in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and pledged the nation's help:

I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives.  The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble, and to deliver the humanitarian relief -- the food, water and medicine  -- that Haitians will need in the coming days.  In that effort, our government, especially USAID and the Departments of State and Defense are working closely together and with our partners in Haiti, the region, and around the world. 

President Obama also urged Americans to contribute to the humanitarian efforts in support of the earthquake's victims:

Despite the fact that we are experiencing tough times here at home, I would encourage those Americans who want to support the urgent humanitarian efforts to go to where you can learn how to contribute.  We must be prepared for difficult hours and days ahead as we learn about the scope of the tragedy. We will keep the victims and their families in our prayers.  We will be resolute in our response, and I pledge to the people of Haiti that you will have a friend and partner in the United States of America today and going forward.

Click to read a transcript (pdf) of the President's statement.

You can help immediately by donating to the Red Cross to assist the relief effort. Contribute online here, or donate $10 to be charged to your cell phone bill by texting "HAITI" to "90999."

Talking Points Memo is publishing a frequently updated Haiti Quake Wire with links to info about the situation as it emerges. The Boston Globe provides photos of the aftermath at The Big Picture. A diary by Dallas Doc on Daily Kos provides links to more relief efforts that need support.

More info links:

January 13, 2010 at 10:19 AM in Current Affairs, Haiti Earthquake, Obama Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)