Category Archives: Haiti

Barbadian-Produced film Papa Machete to debut at Sundance 2015

papa machete barbados haiti

On January 23, 2015, the short film Papa Machete will make its U.S. premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, one of the most prominent film festivals in the world. Founded in 1985 by actor Robert Redford, Sundance has launched the careers of many of Hollywood’s most acclaimed independent directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh.

Drawing on Haiti’s revolutionary history and modern struggles, the short documentary explores the mysterious martial art of tire machèt — Haitian machete fencing — through the practice of one man, an impoverished Haitian farmer named Alfred Avril. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Barbados, Haiti

United Nations says a moderate earthquake or hurricane would destroy 80% of Barbados schools, homes. St. Lucia would lose only 20%.

What makes you think Barbados would fare better than Haiti did in 2010?

What makes you think Barbados would fare better than Haiti did in 2010? 80% of Bajan houses, schools, hotels and public buildings are expected to collapse during a MODERATE hurricane or earthquake! (Source: UN)

Grenville Phillips II sounds the alarm…

… and offers a low cost retro-fit solution for home-owners and government

The Government has indicated that a significant amount of the planned $2.5B new debt is to be used to build new infrastructure. Before spending any of this money on new infrastructure, let me suggest that the Government meaningfully regulate the construction industry.

Having trained over 500 construction personnel around the Caribbean, I can confirm that much of our infrastructure is indeed substandard.  I have spent the past 15 years providing explicit evidence supporting the accurateness of this claim, and while some countries have heeded and improved, Barbados has gone backwards.

The United Nations recently assessed Barbados’ infrastructure and concluded in its Global Assessment Report (2013) that Barbados is expected to suffer probable maximum losses of over 80% of its gross fixed capital formation (buildings, equipment and infrastructure) if we are impacted by a moderate earthquake, or hurricane.  This is the UN’s worst possible assessment category.  For comparison, the UN predicts that neighbouring St Lucia is only expected to suffer probable maximum losses of 10% to 20%.

When will we wake up and realise that we are doing something terribly wrong?  Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Consumer Issues, Disaster, Haiti

In memory of Darlens

N’ap Degaje Nou…

This roughly translates to, “We are making due with what we have.”

We’ve followed the work of Licia, Enoch, Charles, Lori, Anna and their fellow angels at the Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center since the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake. Two and a half years later and the nurses are still sleeping with the little ones so they aren’t alone when they die of malnutrition – too far gone to be saved when they arrive at the clinic.

Barbados, and to be fair the rest of the Caribbean, did little to nothing for Haiti before or since the earthquake. In the first few months afterwards when so many lives could have been saved, Health Minister Donville Inniss and Foreign Affairs Minister Maxine McClean basically said, “No stinkin’ Haitians aboard the good ship Barbados. Not a one. Let ‘em die.

And so the Haitian children continue to die, while the angels at the Rescue Center make do with what they have…

Darlens

I was lying in bed late at night, with one of the kids in my care sleeping next to me, as his crib and the extra child’s mattress in my room had two kids on IV and oxygen sleeping in them.  I had just come back from preparing a little girl for burial, and wanted to try to sleep for a couple hours.  It’s not often that I find myself getting emotional about sick or dying kids anymore, but this night was overwhelmingly tough.  I found myself closing my eyes trying to hold back the tears, praying that these kids’ suffering would just end.  I felt small hands grab onto my neck and shoulders as a child pulled his body closer to mine.  He put his hands on my cheeks and touched his nose to mine, holding himself there until we dozed off.  This is one of many memories that I have of an amazing little boy named Darlens…

… continue reading about Darlens at the Real Hope for Haiti blog

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Filed under Disaster, Haiti, Human Rights

New Barbados WikiLeaks – Billie Miller confidential to US Ambassador: “Chinese owe Barbados for the favourable state construction deals…”

Billie Miller implies that Barbados Government Bid Process is rigged to favour Chinese Companies!

China “will continue” to win new construction contracts in Barbados!

You know why the Barbados news media doesn’t cover WikiLeaks

Barbados Free Press asks: “Can we expect a statement from COW or Bizzy Williams on the China construction contracts revelations?”

Every morning we rise ‘n shine, flip on the old PC and head for WikiLeaks first thing to see if there’s anything new about Barbados. We can’t imagine any Bajan journalist not doing that because we know that WikiLeaks has some 261 US Embassy cables sent from Bridgetown and up until April 18, 2011 only 3 had been released.

Maybe we missed some recent coverage in the Bajan oldstream news media, and if so we apologise. If it wasn’t covered, maybe the Bajan oldstream news media should apologise to Barbadians.

The latest release of 16 embassy cables is online now at WikiLeaks Bridgetown Embassy List. There’s only one “Confidential” cable in the bunch, but that’s not to say that the others aren’t important – we just haven’t looked at them yet.

Here’s some excerpts from the April 12, 2006 “CONFIDENTIAL” cable from Ambassador Mary Kramer, talking about some official and off-the-record conversations she had with Barbados Foreign Minister Dame Billie Miller…

China

“Miller told the Ambassador privately that the Chinese “owe” Barbados for all the favorable deals their state construction company has won – and will continue to win – in Barbados.”

Sugar Subsidies out, Service Industry in

“Ambassador Kramer asked FM Miller to share CARICOM’s vision of a desired future for regional and global trade. The Foreign Minister responded that for over 300 years Barbados has never openly traded sugar.  Her country has always had preferential treatment; sugar has almost always been subsidized.  Miller said Barbados has determined that
sugar is not the way forward; instead, the service industry represents the most promising future.”

Cameras at Airport and Port

The PS for Trade, Samuel Chandler, entered the discussion, noting how security regulation and requirements have added cost to both exporters and governments.  Miller remarked on all the camera equipment at the port and airport, saying, “These are not one-off expenses, they are recurring expenses, but without them one risks the loss of international access for the port and the airport.”

Barbados stifles open discussion with USA

Such a frank and wide-ranging discussion between the Barbados Government and senior diplomats is extremely rare. The Barbadians normally hold embassies at arm’s length, insisting on a rigorous adherence to protocol that stifles open discussion.  Barbados and FM Miller in particular are CARICOM leaders in many areas of foreign affairs, and her views on Haiti and trade likely hold true for most CARICOM members.

KRAMER

Full text of Confidential April 12, 2006 message from US Embassy, Bridgetown

C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 000637 Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, CARICOM, China, Haiti, History, Politics

Spark of the Day! Why are these Haitian girls smiling?

Daphna, Lysemene, Fabienne and Loudia can’t stop smiling

Look at them. You know what’s happened in Haiti this year and it’s a wonder that anyone can smile, but these girls have good reason to be happy.

Go ahead: take a moment, click on the photo and discover why they are smiling. You know you want to!

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Filed under Haiti, Spark of the Day!

Please visit our friends at… Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center

(Click on the banner to visit Enoch and Licia and all the angels. They do the best they can with what they have.)

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Filed under Disaster, Haiti, Human Rights

Hating Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for ending the hypocrisy

Trinidad & Tobago’s PM says no help for Hurricane Tomas victims unless it benefits Trinidad & Tobago too

The BFP crew joined the outrage against Persad-Bissessar’s statements made earlier this week – until Marcus walked into the room and gave us his outstanding impression of Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II…

“We’re both part of the same hypocrisy…

…but Kamla’s decided she’d rather tell the truth.”

Proponents of CARICOM love to talk about how wonderful and strong the Caribbean Community could be if we would only unite and put aside our selfishness. If the stronger and wealthier countries would help our neighbours to the best of our ability, the entire family would progress.

Fine words. Fine thoughts.

The Caricom party line heard for decades ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

So when Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar said that Trinidad and Tobago taxpayers are getting tired of being thought of as the CARICOM family piggy bank, that she has to consult with the citizens before her government can make promises AND that if houses are to be built as a gift from T&T, it will be T&T companies that build them with T&T materials… WELL… that put the mongoose in the chicken pen!

Remember Haiti?

It’s been almost nine months since the devastating earthquake in Haiti. As with every major crisis there was lots of interest, promises and concern for a little while. Then we forgot about Haiti. All of us forgot, Barbados included. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, CARICOM, Disaster, Economy, Ethics, Haiti, History, Politics, Trinidad and Tobago

Anti-Obama Tea Party cruise conceals Haiti destination as “Hispaniola”

UPDATED: September 16, 2010

Since we first published this article over five months ago, World Net Daily has continued to mislead its readers and “Tea Party at Sea” attendees as to the true destination of the cruise. The word “Haiti” is still not mentioned in the WND.com adverts about the cruise – despite this article and our email to Joseph Farah of World Net Daily back in April. In our email (below) we asked Mr. Farah to tell his Tea Party folks the truth so they might be moved to help the Haitian people.

Nope, Mr. Farah kept silent.

Poor show, Mr. Farah. Frankly, we expected much better from you and WND.com.

And… the Wall Street Journal read our article and then published their take on the story on September 15, 2010 without mentioning BFP or our plea for WND to assist the Haitian people.

Poor show, Wall Street Journal. We know you visited Barbados Free Press during your research several days before you published your article.

Mr. Farah and World Net Daily responded to the Wall Street Journal article but not to ours or our email.

Ho hum. At least CNN, USA Today and many other news organisations have mentioned Barbados Free Press when they use our material or ideas.

World Net Daily: Wall Street Journal: Boycott Haiti

Wall Street Journal: Tea Party Goes to Haiti

Original article first published April 6, 2010…

Will World Net Daily WND.com tell the truth about cruise destination and Royal Caribbean’s exploitation of Haitians?

The right-wing conservative website World Net Daily (wnd.com) is holding a “Tea Party at Sea” cruise this September that features a host of anti-Obama speakers and seminars.

Tea Partiers (is that a real word?) are invited to “Enlist Now!” to sail on the Royal Caribbean ship Liberty of the Seas and to “…be on board with the most freedom-embracing and liberty-loving navy at sea: the WND Navy and the Tea Party at Sea!”

Joseph Farah

World Net Daily supporters, editor Joseph Farah and other “birthers” are engaged in an ongoing campaign to discredit President Barack Obama and his political and social agenda. One of their tactics is their claim that the man Americans elected to the White House in November 2008 does not meet the US Constitutional qualifications to be President.

Well, okay – if people want to waste so much time, energy and money pursuing that doomed-to-fail agenda, that is their right. God knows one of the things we really admire about the USA is the protection of freedom of speech – which is quite contrary to the situation in Barbados where the truth is no defense against the defamation lawsuits, threats and job loss that Bajans often suffer if they are effective in criticizing the political and business elites.

But while WND.com World Net Daily claims to be in search of the truth, they are not telling the truth about where their Tea Party at Sea cruise is heading. The Tea Partiers will be frolicking on a beach in Haiti – protected from the starving Haitian children by layers of barbed wire and shotgun-toting guards. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Corruption, Disaster, Haiti, Human Rights

Barbadian Engineer: United Nations turned away Caribbean professional assistance in Haiti

Updated: December 9, 2010

The recent stories about Haiti’s political troubles and the UN being fingered for causing the recent outbreak of cholera bring us back to this story about the the UN’s refusal to use Caribbean engineers after the January 2010 earthquake.

We haven’t seen much progress in Haiti since the earthquake – with millions still camped in the open. We wonder about all the aid pledges and foreign assistance on the ground. Have things returned to “normal” with the rest of the Caribbean and the world content with the state of affairs? If Haiti wasn’t an island but was instead a part of Florida, would the response be the same?

Here’s our original article. Perhaps Bajan professional engineer Grenville Phillips II can provide an update from his perspective…

“15th January 2010 – I contacted the Secretary General of the Caribbean Council of Engineering Organisations (CCEO), and the Chairman of the Caribbean Division of the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) about surveying their members for a possible deployment…. we soon had a long list of Caribbean based structural engineers who volunteered to be deployed in Haiti, to help their fellow Caribbean brothers and sisters in their time of desperate need.”

… from the Weighed in the Balance article Haiti Deployment

What was the UN’s agenda in ignoring Caribbean Professionals?

The day after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Bajan professional engineer Grenville Phillips II started organising Caribbean structural engineers for deployment to Haiti to assist in evaluating the thousands of damaged schools, hospitals and other public buildings and to train Haitian engineers to perform the same task.

Short story: When Grenville arrived in Haiti, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) told Phillips (and through him the other Caribbean structural engineers) that their services were not needed and were not welcome. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, CARICOM, Disaster, Haiti

Local artist Annalee Davis holds sale in support of Haiti

Renowned local artist, author, filmmaker and feisty letter writer Annalee Davis is offering discounts on her personal art and the Manipura brand with the proceeds from the sale going to help Haiti.

Her Manipura brand works are on show daily at the Flower Forest Botanical Gardens gift shop or… would you like a private showing in your home or at her studio? No problem. Give her a call and she’ll be happy to oblige.

You should also check out Annalee’s blog for updates about Caricom’s role on the ground in Haiti.

Here are some of the links for Annalee…

Manipura Art Website

Special Sale

Personal website: Annalee Davis.com

Blog: On the Map

BFP article by Annalee Davis: Film Maker Annalee Davis Publishes Letter To Barbardos Advocate Editor – And She Does It Here At BFP

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Filed under Art, Barbados, Haiti, Immigration

Unfair cartoon? The Truth? A little of both?

See BFP’s article Barbados refuses request to look after injured Haitians. “Even one is too many for our health care system” says Bajan Foreign Minister.

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Filed under Barbados, Haiti

Barbados refuses request to look after injured Haitians. “Even one is too many for our health care system” says Bajan Foreign Minister.

UPDATED: January 12, 2011

One year after the earthquake that killed 300,000 and made a million or more homeless we take our readers back to this article, first published on February 8, 2010. Also worth reading is a new Barbados Today editorial Haiti I’m sorry! that says this…

It seems like ages since the appeals for aid disappeared from our landscape. The pictures of aircraft and soldiers from the Regional Security System flying into Haiti with aid have also disappeared. Even more telling, we have heard little to nothing from our CARICOM leaders about Haiti of late. Haiti, never known for being high on the agenda of our leaders, has no doubt slipped further down the list, given that regional integration and Caribbean unity have taken a back seat to the “home-drums-beat-first” mentality of our current leaders.

As far as we are aware, there has not even been a regional attempt to commemorate what must arguably be the greatest human tragedy in this part of the world for centuries.

What’s sad about this is that we must all be aware that what visited Haiti one year ago had not been invited by Haitians; and that every island of this region is as vulnerable to such a catastrophe. In the blink of an eye, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, St. Lucia, any of our islands, can be thrown into absolute misery by an act of nature.

Have a read of the Barbados Today editorial and our original article below and you’ll see that we called it correctly back then. For all the words of our leaders and the hours of non-stop coverage on CBC, Barbados as a country did so little. We and our Caribbean neighbours basically said…

“No stinkin’ Haitians aboard the good ship Barbados. Not a one. Let ‘em die.”

And that, my friends, is exactly how it turned out.

Original BFP article published February 8, 2010…

It didn’t take long to cut through the Bajan veneer of sincerity about Haiti, did it?

Barbados will not take in a single injured patient from Haiti. Not twenty. Not ten. Not five. Not two. Not even one.

Our sovereign nation was formally asked by the USA to take some patients from the hospital ship, the USS Comfort, because the ship is full and people are being turned away to die. We were asked to take critical care patients, but if we couldn’t manage that we were also asked to take amputees in stable condition to free up space and medical resources in Haiti.

Barbados said “No” Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Disaster, Haiti

Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker comments on the pathetic failure of Royal Caribbean to help Haiti

Royal Caribbean’s Haitian response called “A Sick Joke”

Our article Royal Caribbean passengers frolic in Haiti as the screams from the rubble continue touched a few raw nerves, but BFP isn’t the only blog questioning the cruise industry’s failure to respond with their full might to the mass deaths still happening in Haiti. As a matter of interest, a Google search reveals dozens if not over a hundred critical articles out there so far.

Maritime lawyer Jim Walker runs Cruise Law News blog out of his Miami law office where he specializes in representing crew members and passengers who have been injured, assaulted or otherwise had a bad experience with the cruise line industry.

Mr. Walker is naturally much more knowledgeable about the cruise industry than we are, and even if he is normally on the opposite side of the industry, when you read his articles, you’ll pay attention. Here are some samples from his article Royal Caribbean “Returns” to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® – While Haiti Suffers.

The photos are supplied by Royal Caribbean through Mr. Walker. Royal Caribbean probably intended that the photos would be evidence of their worthy response, but we at Barbados Free Press find them totally pathetic…

“In the last few days, Royal Caribbean has made a big deal talking about offloading pallets of food for Haiti. Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas sailed with only 60 cases of food and water  last Friday according to the Royal Caribbean President’s “Nation of Why Not?” blog. That’s just four pallets. The blog has some photographs of the few pallets from the Independence of the Seas – four pallets of flour, tomato sauce, can goods, and water bottles. Four pallets? 

Considering that on a typical seven-day cruise Labadee – Haiti – Royal Caribbean “Private Destination”the cruise ship’s passengers consume over 100,000 pounds of food and 12,000 gallons of alcohol over the course of over a hundred thousand meals- the photograph of the meager provisions sitting on the dock dwarfed by the huge Independence of the Seas seems like a sick joke.”

“Now a million dollars is a lot of money to me and probably anyone reading this article, but it is peanuts for a cruise line like Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean collects around $6,000,000,000 (billion) a year.  And because it registered its business in Liberia and its cruise ships fly the foreign flags of Liberia or the Bahamas, it pays $0 in federal Income taxes. $0.

Why only a million dollars?  That will accomplish little. Even Royal Caribbean’s competitor Carnival promised to send $5 million to Haiti, and it has no relationship with Haiti.  The $6 a passenger deal which Royal Caribbean struck with the leaders of Haiti rips the Haitian people off.  $6 to go into a 260 acre private paradise?  Well established ports in Alaska collect $50 a passenger in head taxes just to step off of the cruise ship.”

Royal Caribbean tosses a few coins to the native swimmers.

“The executives at Royal Caribbean know how to make a hard bargain with Caribbean islands which have little economic bargaining power. CEO Richard Fain cut a deal where for only $6 a passenger (paid by the passenger), Haiti turned over a 260 acre tropical waterfront paradise of Haitian sovereign land for Royal Caribbean to consider it “private property” bearing the trademarked name “Labadee®.” Yes, that’s right.  This is a name that Royal Caribbean trademarked as a variation of the French slave owner Marquis de La’Badie who settled in Haiti in the 1600’s.

Many years ago an article revealed the hypocrisy of this whole endeavor.  Entitled “Fantasy Island:  Royal Carribean Parcels Off a Piece of Haiti,” the article explained that Royal Caribbean began docking in Haiti in January 1986 after the ruthless dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier leased the land to Royal Caribbean.  He thereafter fled to France and the country turned into chaos for the next decade.”

… read the entire article at Jim Walker’s Cruise Law News: Royal Caribbean “Returns” to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® – While Haiti Suffers.

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Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Disaster, Haiti

Tons Of Food Aid Rotting In Haiti

haiti-eat-dirt.jpg

click on the photo for YouTube video

Without Bribes, Food Containers Are Stuck In Customs Port

Many Haitians Regularly Eat Dirt Cookies

If you want to know what corruption does to a country and a people, look no further than our CARICOM neighbour Haiti.

Excerpts from Associated Press…

Tons Of Food Aid Rotting In Haiti Ports

CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (AP) – While millions of Haitians go hungry, containers full of food are stacking up in the nation’s ports because of government red tape – leaving tons of beans, rice and other staples to rot under a sweltering sun or be devoured by vermin.

A government attempt to clean up a corrupt port system that has helped make Haiti a major conduit for Colombian cocaine has added new layers of bureaucracy – and led to backlogs so severe they are being felt 600 miles away in Miami, where cargo shipments to Haiti have ground almost to a standstill.
The problems are depriving desperate people of donated food. Some are so poor they are forced to eat cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable oil to satisfy their hunger.

An Associated Press investigation found the situation is most severe in Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second-largest city. One recent afternoon, garbage men shoveled a pile of rotting pinto beans that had turned gray and crumbled to dust as cockroaches and beetles scurried about.

(snip)

The U.N. World Food Program and large-scale U.S. rice growers say they have been able to get their food into Haiti by hiring local agents to handle bureaucratic procedures. But smaller charities, merchants and private citizens have often been forced by the delays to throw away containers of food or pay exorbitant fees.

The problems stem in part from efforts to clean up a port system the World Bank recently ranked as the second-worst in the region, ahead of only Guyana.

(snip)

And despite the reforms, some say the bribes are continuing.

Jean-Paul Michaud, a Canadian, said he sailed to the capital of Port-au-Prince late last year carrying 60 pounds of donated clothing and medicine – and that port authorities demanded $10,000 in “customs fees” – code for a bribe to make the fees disappear.

“I’d have rather thrown the aid in the water,” said Michaud. The Canadian Embassy intervened and the fee was later waived.

Krabacher’s group says it has paid nearly $16,000 in fees in the first six weeks of 2008 alone, compared to $23,418 for all of 2007.

… read the full article at MyWay: Tons Of Food Aid Rotting In Haiti Ports

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Filed under Barbados, CARICOM, Corruption, Haiti, Politics & Corruption